Then and Now: McNeill Bay

A carriage train of convention delegates makes its way along the waterfront road in front of McNeill Bay in this photo from 1906. Beach Drive follows the same route along the water today.

A carriage train of convention delegates makes its way along the waterfront road in front of McNeill Bay in this photo from 1906. Beach Drive follows the same route along the water today.

Much of what is now Oak Bay was undeveloped in 1906, when the municipality was created and such well-known names as William Oliver, Francis Rattenbury and Frederic Pemberton sat on the first council.

The McNeill Bay area was no different. Originally called Shoal Bay, the protected body of water was renamed in 1860 for sea captain William Henry McNeill, master of the Hudson’s Bay Company steamer SS Beaver when it brought Sir James Douglas into what is now Victoria Harbour.

The coastline of the bay formed the south edge of McNeill’s original 202-acre lot, part of which was passed on to his children when he died in 1875.

A popular picnic area, the bay eventually had a road built beside it, which visitors to the area would use (as shown in the 1906 photo) en route to Oak Bay beach, beside what is now Oak Bay Marina.

These days, the waterfront side of Beach Drive along the bay remains unspoiled, but splendid homes line the opposite side, built to take advantage of the ocean view.

– with thanks to the Oak Bay Archives

editor@oakbaynews.com