THE MILL BAY COMMUNITY LEAGUE – On October 23, 1945, the inaugural meeting of the Mill Bay Community League (MBCL) was held with 64 people present. The League was formed with the object of furthering the advancement of community interest for the welfare of all. The MBCL was incorporated under the Society Act of British Columbia in March, 1948.
The first project was to find a place to hold meetings and later to build a hall. Although a small building was found and moved to a lot on Deloume Road efforts to purchase that property failed and the League looked elsewhere. Mr. George Frayne donated a half acre lot on Shawnigan-Mill Bay Road, and he offered to sell a block of 19 acres for $1,600.
The League did not have the funds and there was little prospect of raising such a sum. Mr. John Kerry purchased this property, only asking that the League pay off the debt at $100. per year; and he (Mr. Kerry) would pay the taxes. When Mr. Kerry died, in his will he forgave the League its debt. It is therefore most fitting that his name is permanently remembered in our JOHN KERRY PARK.
A building (the first Sylvania School) was bought and moved to the site in John Kerry Park. In February, 1956, after many hours of volunteer labour, it took on a new lease in life as The Mill Bay Community Hall – not the League Hall but the Community Hall.
The hall was soon put to good use and the meetings held produced desirable changes in the district. Mill Bay Water Works was started by members of the League. The MBCL took over the firefighting equipment of the Civil Defence Guild and this evolved into the present day Mill Bay Volunteer Fire Department.
Part of John Kerry Park was made into the Centennial Tennis Courts, and a ballpark was built. In 1973, the Kerry Park Recreational Centre (arena) was built on 4.03 acres of land leased from the League on a 99 year term at rent of $1.00 per year – a very valuable concession to the public.
Then in September, 1983, the hall was totally destroyed by fire. A new hall would rise on the old foundation. The fire insurance was insufficient to cover the total cost so money was raised from a big yard sale and donations. The new hall was opened in 1984. Life Members Adelaide Ellis and Evelyn McGrade cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.
Thanks to the generous response to fund raising efforts, the very valuable volunteer work and the work and competence of the planning committee, the new hall was opened with no appreciable encumbrances on it – a splendid effort by the people of Mill Bay.