This community of 18,000 is a major deepwater port on the Island’s west coast, and is important for the fishing and lumber shipping industries. Port Alberni was discovered in 1791 by Don Pedro Alberni a Spanish sea captain exploring the area. In 1860, the region’s lumber industry began when a sawmill was built here. The town is surrounded by mountains, forest and lakes, making it a popular base for outdoors enthusiasts.
A popular spot is nearby Sproat Lake Provincial Park, and the ski area at Mount Arrowsmith. Sproat Lake, just west of town, is home base of BC Fire-righting waterbomber fleet. The lake is long enough that they can skim down the lake and scoop up enough water on the lake to return to any nearby forest fires.
The harbour continues to be the town’s focal point and is enhanced by the Alberni Harbour Quay, at the foot of Argyll Street, with its shops. Visitors can also ride the “Two Spot” a logging locomotive, on a 25 minute tour along the waterfront.
Midway, horse show, tractor pull and agricultural fair
Port Alberni Attractions
Alberni Valley Museum
4255 Wallace St (Echo Recreation Centre)
(from Redford Street, turn right onto 10th for 3 blocks and then right on Wallace St)
Explore this excellent community museum and discover fascinating collections related to First Nations culture, local and industrial history and folk art. Clothing, all manner of textiles and handwork, kitchen and laundry implements and woodworking tools tell of early life in the Valley. Agricultural equipment, and equipment from mining, fishing and logging inform us about our industrial past. Open Monday to Saturday – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Thursdays to 8:00 pm. Admission by donation
Coulson Flying Tankers visitor centre
9593 Bomber Base Rd, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 8Z3
Cherry Creek Road, off Tofino Highway 4.
In the summer, you can participate in a guided tour of the gigantic red and white Philippine Mars water bomber. Access and tours may be restricted during active forest fire season.
McLean Mill Historical Site
5633 Smith Road
Port Alberni, BC
The McLean Mill is the only steam-operated sawmill in Canada, where you can see the sawmill cut wood for demonstration and sale. The mill was operated by R.B. McLean and his three sons from 1926 to 1965. You’ll see the old original buildings and lots of restored logging equipment around the site including a steam donkey, logging trucks, graders and lumber carrier. The “Tin Pants Theatre” troupe will entertain you with stage shows at the Nikkei Theatre and show you around the site as if you were just starting work at the mill. Open end-June early September, daily 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. Steam logging demonstrations at 12 noon and 3:45 pm. Admission: Adults $8.50, Youth and Seniors $4.50, Children under 6 free.. Note: Tuesday and Wednesday, the site is open but not operational, all purchases at the Steam Pot Cafe are 50% off regular price. There are restricted fall hours during September.
Driving directions: 8 kilometres northwest of Port Alberni. Coming into the City stay on Johnston Road. Turn right at the Victoria Quay intersection towards Sproat Lake/ Highway #4. Shortly after the intersection, take a right onto Beaver Creek Road. Follow Beaver Creek Road for approximately 6 kilometres. Turn right at Smith Road and follow the road past the train tracks. You will come to the parking lot on the left.
The Maritime Discovery Centre
2750 Harbour Road, Port Alberni, BC
(just south of Harbour Quay which is at the foot of Argyle Street.)
Port Alberni’s Maritime Discovery Centre is a unique maritime museum, located on the waterfront of the city’s deep-sea harbour, and constructed from an actual coastal lighthouse. The museum is dedicated to exhibiting and interpreting our fascinating cultural, environmental and industrial maritime history. See the historic Banfield Lifeboat, based at the Canadian Coast Guard Station at Bamfield where it answered marine distress calls from 1951 until 1969. Open late June to Labour Day, daily 10:00am – 5:00 pm. Admission is by donation.
The Alberni Pacific Railway
on Kingsway Avenue at Argyle Street near Harbour Quay.
You can board the train pulled by our completely restored 1929 Baldwin ex-logging locomotive at the 1912 CPR Station and ride out to the McLean Mill National Historic Site. The track winds through the City of Port Alberni and then the surrounding forests for 35 minutes each way, though the Beaufort Gang has been seen in the area and has been known to rob the train. The coaches on the McLean Mill run are five rebuilt CN transfer cabooses that have been refitted with seats, three open and two covered. Trains run June 26 to September 6 (daily, except Tuesdays and Wednesdays) with departures at 10 am and 1:45 pm. Fares/Admission are charged for train, mill and theatre. In September train runs on weekends only.
Cathedral Grove Provincial Park (MacMillan Park)
16 km east of Port Alberni on Hwy #4
This day park is located at the top end of Cameron Lake, and has a a grove of 800 year old giant Douglas firs, which can be seen from the interpretive trail system, which lets visitors see blown-down trees to count the tree rings for themselves. Free Admission.
Year round farmers market each Saturday from 9 am to noon.
All three mills offer 1.5 hour mill tours. Proper footwear and slacks are advised on tours, which are offered on days the mills are operating.
Port Alberni Mill, Norkse Canada
Learn about how paper is made from trees. Tours from June to August. Monday to Friday. Reservations required, children must be at least 8 years old and accompanies by an adult. No sandals, clogs or heels. Free admission.
MV Lady Rose
Docked at foot of Argyle St
250-723-8313 or 1-800-663-7192
This small freighter, which delivers mail and cargo to isolated camps down the Alberni Inlet to Bamfield and Ucluelet (on alternating days). Reservations are recommended in the summer.
Robertson Creek Fish Hatchery
5 km west on Highway 4, then 7 km NW on Great Central Lake Rd
This hatchery produces 9 million chinook and 1.5 million coho salmon as well as 250,000 steelhead trout. The facilities include incubation tanks and holding ponds and dsplays show the life cycle of a salmon. Open daily from 8:30 am to 4 pm, with best adult salmon viewing mid-September to mid-October. Free admission.
Sproat Lake Provincial Park
18 km west, on Highway 4
Fresh water adventure park in the Alberni Valley on central Vancouver Island. Located 15 minutes west of Port Alberni. A variety of short access trails lead visitors around this park, including a trail to the eastern end of Sproat Lake, which is home to one of the finest panels of prehistoric petroglyphs in British Columbia. Two campgrounds and a alarget day-use area service this lake.