Mill Bay was founded in the 1860's, twenty years after Victoria was founded. Many of the first settlers arrived when the HMS Hecate arrived in the area from England.
Located on the southeast side of Vancouver Island, 42 km (26 mi) north of Victoria.
Places to See
The largest and highest surviving timber trestle in North America at 40 m (130 ft) high and 187 m (613 ft) long, Kinsol Trestle was built in 1911 and has withstood floods and fires. It has now been rehabilitated and is open to the public. Forming part of the Trans Canada Trail, the Trestle is located off Shawnigan-Mill Bay Road west of the Trans Canada Highway 1.
Bamberton Provincial Park
For years the warm waters surrounding Vancouver Island's Mill Bay have been a popular destination for local salmon fishers. The inviting water and the 225 m (74 ft) long sandy beach have also made Bamberton Provincial Park an ideal spot for families. Swimming, picnicking, bird-watching, boating and enjoying the stunning views across the water draw thousands of visitors here each year.
Duncan Meadows Golf Club is a championship 18 hole course located in the Cowichan Valley. The Arbutus Ridge Golf Club which is located in Cobble Hill has a four star Golf Digest rating and was voted the best destination golf course in British Columbia by readers of Golf Nerve magazine. Cowichan Golf and Country Club is a 18 hole course overlooking the mountains and Cowichan Bay.
The Cowichan River is renowned for its brown trout, rainbow and steelhead trout, and its vigorous salmon runs of Chinook, coho, and steelhead that school in Cowichan Bay and enter the river to spawn in November and December. There is also a steelhead run in March. Shawnigan Lake, Cowichan Lake and other nearby lakes and rivers are also favourite freshwater fishing spots. Charters and guides are available to take visitors out for saltwater fishing. Salmon, crab and prawns top the catches in the area.
The Cowichan Valley Trail is a picturesque segment of the Trans Canada Trail. Cyclists can travel over eight historic rail trestles between Shawnigan Lake and Lake Cowichan. The Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society has maps on cycling routes. Cycling is also popular on the country roads that connect the wineries and farms. For some excellent mountain biking trails try Burnt Bridge, Mt. Tzouhalem, Cobble Hill Mountain and Bamberton.
Boating, Sailing & Kayaking
Whether you prefer the ocean or a lake, the Cowichan Region is a boater's paradise. From kayaking along the rocky shores of a bay to sailing the ocean, the waterways are both beautiful and accessible. Full service marinas and moorage are safe and conveniently located close to restaurants, pubs, and shopping areas. Charters and rentals are available.
Spectacle Lake Provincial Park
Spectacle Lake Provincial Park is located 14 km (8.7 mi) south of Mill Bay just off Highway 1. It is popular for fishing, swimming and in winter, skating. An easy hiking trail winds around the lake with much of the trail wheelchair accessible.
Wineries and Culinary Tourism
The mild climate and long growing season in the Cowichan region have created an agriculturally rich community that produces high quality fruits and vegetables, specialty foods such as artisan cheeses, breads, vinegars, jams and jellies and more. With many first class chefs and wine makers now calling the area home it is becoming renowned as a vibrant wine and culinary destination. Some 20 wineries, cidery, craft beers and distilled beverages are made in the Cowichan region. Many are open to the public throughout the year for tastings and tours and some have restaurants. A Wine Islands Guide is available from a Visitor Centre.