Mill Bay was established in the 1860’s, shortly after the founding of Victoria. Many of the first settlers arrived from England in 1862 on board the HMS Hecate. The rapid growth of Victoria fueled Mill Bay’s lumber and milling industry, which was located at the mill on the bay.
Located on the northwest corner of the Saanich Inlet, Mill Bay provides a central base for outdoor and nature enthusiasts where one can enjoy pristine beaches, sailing, kayaking, fishing, crabbing and prawning, and the endless variety of sea and coastal wildlife including pods of killer whales that frequent the inlet. The new Mill Bay Marina is a full-service marina that attracts boating enthusiasts from all over the Pacific Northwest who come to explore the vast number of islands and secluded beaches that line the east coast of Vancouver Island.
Hiking, biking, and camping enthusiasts will never tire of the endless parks and trails that abound in the area, including the breathtakingly beautiful Goldstream Park which is a scenic 15-minute drive south of Mill Bay, the Kinsol Trestle, Bamberton Provincial Park, and the Trans Canada Trail to name just a few. The world-renowned Butchart Gardens is just a 20-minute scenic ferry ride across the inlet on the Saanich Peninsula.
CLIMATE: Our average annual rainfall is 32.4 inches (82.5 cm) and the average sunshine is 2058 hours. The lowest average monthly temperature is 38° (3.1 Celsius). Some snow usually occurs each year but depths are generally slight and may last only a day or two. Mill Bay is approximately 23 miles (37 km) south of the 49th Parallel. “Cowichan” means “Land warmed by the sun” or “The Warm Land”, and the long sunny days of summer and the temperate winters contribute to the rapid growth, great size and tremendous diversity of the trees and plants you will find in the area.
The temperate climate has fostered the growth of numerous thriving wineries throughout the Cowichan Valley as well as plentiful farmer’s markets.
MILL BAY SERVICES: The Mill Bay Centre boasts a vast assortment of retail outlets and professional services that make it your one-stop shopping and health-care center. Large box store outlets are located 15 minutes north in Duncan, or 15 minutes south in Langford.
SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES: Public schools consist of the Cobble Hill Elementary, George Bonner Elementary, and Frances Kelsey High School. Private schools include the world class Brentwood College and Shawnigan Lake School. The new campus of the Vancouver Island University is only 15 minutes away in Duncan.
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES: Kerry Park Recreation Centre is located only 3 minutes from Mill Bay.
PARKS: Bamberton, Spectacle Lake, Shawnigan Lake, Old Mill Community Park, Bright Angel, Goldstream, Koksilah River, Kinsol Trestle, and many others.
FINE AND CASUAL DINING: There is a broad selection of excellent restaurants, cafes, and pubs within a few minutes’ drive as well as wineries, a cidery, lodges, hotels, and the very popular Bridgeman’s Bistro located at the stunning new Mill Bay Marina. The area also abounds with B&B’s.
CHURCHES: All major denominations are represented in the South Cowichan area. There are several beautiful historic churches nearby including Sylvan Mill Bay United, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1998. There is also the Anglican Church of St. John the Baptist in Cobble Hill, and St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church on Kilmalu Road.
Mill Bay is located only 25 minutes from Victoria, and offers a very convenient commuter transit service. Cowichan Valley Commuter Transit Schedule information for Mill Bay to Victoria call (250) 746-9899.