Take a Look Into the Past

Exploring the History and Culture of the Alberni Valley

Alberni Valley History – Port Alberni c1910: View looking NE from the intersection of Argyle Street and Harbour Road. The Somass Hotel stand prominent at the NE corner of Argyle Street and Kingsway Avenue. (source)

The Alberni Valley is home to a rich and fascinating history. It is well worth spending a few hours, (or an entire day for you history buffs) strolling through our amazing museums and heritage centres. You will learn about the history and culture of local First Nations, and the early pioneer years when the towns (that’s right, there were originally 2 towns) were  first founded. Perhaps you’re more of a Salty Dog? We have that covered too, with our Maritime Discovery Centre you can learn all about the seafaring side of our history, including an exciting retelling of the 1964 tsunami. The McLean Mill National Historic Site is a great way to explore one of the major industries that was so influential in building many of the communities all around Vancouver Island. Pair that with a guided tour of some pristine example of historic industrial machinery at our Industrial Heritage Center.

Unsure where to start? Here is a quick guide to help you on your historical way.

Alberni Valley Museum

Located in the heart of Port Alberni, the Alberni Valley Museum, reflects the richly diverse past of the area, with a large collection of artifacts. Learn about First Nations culture, local and industrial history, and folk art. The Alberni Valley Museum uses a unique Visible Storage system to make the entire collection available to the visitor at all times — along with the information, in easy to use catalogue books. The Museum presents an exciting and varied program of temporary exhibits each year, plus they offer engaging hands-on school programs and a number of public programs. There is something for everyone to discover, or rediscover, at this impressive local museum. (source)

Address: 4255 Wallace St, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 3Y6 (map)
Contact: (250) 720-2863 | Website
Hours: Tue – Sat 11:00AM – 4:00PM

McLean Mill

Source: Mclean Mill

The McLean Mill National Historic Site is a former sawmill and logging operation located in the Alberni Valley of Vancouver Island, British Columbia’s west coast. McLean Mill was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1989 to commemorate its collection of extant resources related to logging, sawmilling, transportation and labour, and, its close association to significant aspects of the forest industry. (source)

Address: 5633 Smith Rd, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 8Z1 (map)
Contact: (250) 723-1376 | Website
Hours: (Winter Season) Dawn-Dusk Self Guided Tours

Port Alberni Maritime Discovery Centre

Alberni Valley History of the Maritime Discovery Centre

The Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society (PAMHS) was formed in 1989 with the purpose of working with the museum and the community to preserve and present the maritime heritage of the West Coast area. It has developed and hosted temporary exhibits, mounted public information panels, coordinated many special events and restored the Bamfield Lifeboat. Each summer season a new exhibit on a maritime theme is presented, along with special events and activities. (source)

Address: 2900 Harbour Rd, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 7X2 (map)
Contact: (250) 723-6164 | Website
Hours: Thu – Sun 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society

The Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society restores, maintains and operates historic equipment at the Industrial Heritage Center and the Alberni Pacific Railway. Located on 9th Ave at the top of Dunbar, the Industrial Heritage Center stores antique industrial machinery where volunteers work on restoring and operating that machinery. (source)

Address: 3250A 9th Ave, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 4T2 (map)
Contact: (250) 723-4285 | Website | Email
Hours: Call or email to book a tour