Vancouver Island Communities, Pacific Northwest
Mill Bay Vancouver Island was first settled in the 1860s, its economy ran on logging and milling lumber. Mill Bay was also the location of a power generating station for Henry Shepard’s sawmill.
Logs were brought to the mill by train. The terrain was rough and many trestles had to be built. The highest surviving timber trestle in North America at 40 m high and 187 m long is the kinsol trestle just outside Mill Bay. It was built in 1911 and has survived through fire and flood. It has now been rebuilt 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.
As an alternate route to Victoria, you can take the Mill Bay Vancouver Island ferry to Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula. Mill Bay is located on the southeast shore of Vancouver Island, 41 km north of Victoria, its population is 3,250. This is such a great trip, you could see sea lions, dolphins, whales and any number of birds, i would recommend that you take this route at least once in your life. Sometimes the snow on the mountain route is quite deep, then this trip to Brentwood is a much safer route.
Bamberton Provincial Park is located just south of the Mill Bay ferry terminal. Come for a picnic beneath the fir and arbutus trees, there are plenty of picnic tables. This spot is absolutely beautiful, one of the prettiest spots on the inlet.
The waters surrounding mill bay are warm and have become a mecca for outdoor adventurers looking for a great place to kayak in, after a good workout on the water, you can come ashore and have a picnic here. Cowichan Bay Village is located on the water with stunning views and sunsets. Cottages, shops and restaurants are built out over the water’s edge.
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. The Brown Trout can get to be up to 7 kg or more.
The Cowichan Valley Trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail. Bikers can travel over eight historic rail trestles between Shawnigan Lake and Lake Cowichan. Wildlife viewing is great here and you can see black bears, deer, elk, cougars, otters, whales, over 220 types of birds, plenty of seals and small shore animals.
There are so many other trails to hike on in close proximity to mill bay that you could hike here for days and not see them all, you could camp at Bamberton Park and head out on adventures every day.
The Brentwood College School is located right on the waterfront of Mill Bay, it is a private school in a very impressive setting. The grounds are very pretty and the school itself is a wonderful place built to be part of the local area both in its beauty as well as the involvement in the community.