Alberni Valley Attractions
No matter what time of year, there are things to do, people to meet, and places to go in the Alberni Valley.
Whaler’s Canoe Exhibit at Victoria Quay
Carved from yellow cedar, this Nuu-chah-nulth Whaling Canoe sculpture is a tribute to the seafaring culture of the local Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations. The sculpture was originally housed in the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria and is now on display at the Victoria Quay. This life-sized monument depicts the strength and ferocity of the whalers who took to the open waters with spears and wooden canoes to hunt some of the largest mammals of the sea. Whaling was a very important part of the tribal culture of the First People of west coast Vancouver Island.
Maritime Discovery Centre
On the waterfront near Harbour Quay, the Maritime Discovery Centre is a unique maritime museum constructed from an actual coastal lighthouse. The companion Hutcheson Gallery has a permanent exhibit on the infamous 1964 tsunami that devastated parts of Port Alberni. Rotating exhibits display the city’s cultural, environmental, and industrial maritime history.
Bears on the Boardwalk
Come to the boardwalk at Victoria Quay to view black bears in their natural habitat on the other side of the Somass River estuary. Black bears are a common sight in the Alberni Valley, and the boardwalk is the ideal place to safely view them while they frolic and play along the shoreline at dusk.
The Alberni Valley has two fish hatcheries open for visiting—the Robertson Creek Fish Hatchery and the Alberni Valley Enhancement Association hatchery at the McLean Mill National Historic Site. Come and learn more about salmonid enhancement, and how conservation techniques are helping to maintain and grow this precious natural resource. View directions and visiting hours for Roberston Creek Fish Hatchery.
Murals & Public Art
Port Alberni is host to a diverse range of public art celebrating the area’s cultural heritage, including the Nuu-chah-nulth welcome figures and whaling canoe sculpture, and over two dozen murals throughout town, such as the tsunami memorial on the Kingsway and Argyle, the Jake James sculpture at City Hall, and the carved stone fountain at the Echo Centre.
Rollin Art Centre and Gardens
Home of the Community Arts Council of the Alberni Valley, the Rollin Art Gallery and Gardens is a wheelchair-accessible facility featuring rotating art exhibits, a gift shop, a Japanese garden, and educational events.
Petroglyphs at Sproat Lake
Petroglyphs – figures carved in sandstone eons ago by the local First People – are a distinctly west coast experience, and Sproat Lake is home to one of the finest examples of prehistoric petroglyphs in British Columbia. Follow the access trail to the eastern end of the lake to see the stone etching known as K’ak’awin, then enjoy a summer swim in the clear lake, have a picnic, or go for a paddle on the calm waters. As this is a natural feature, the terrain can be subject to weather conditions. Check with BC Parks to confirm access.
Alberni Valley Museum
The museum features collections of local Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation arts and culture; exhibits exploring the area’s industrial roots in forestry and fishing, local folk art, and hands-on displays for youngsters. Send a message on the telegraph or explore the drawers in this visible-storage museum. Come discover the mixture of cultures and people that come together to make the Alberni Valley the heart of the West Coast. View the Alberni Valley Museum website for location and hours.
Frances Barkley Day Trips
Take a leisurely day trip to Bamfield or Ucluelet. Explore over 40 kilometres of the truly spectacular Alberni Inlet aboard the MV Frances Barkley, a working packet freighter, as she makes regular stops at shoreline communities along the way. Visit the Lady Rose Marine Services website for more information and booking.
McLean Mill National Historic Site
Step back in time and experience the history of McLean Mill. Visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour through the historic village of the McLean Mill National Historic Site to see what life was like yesteryear in the Alberni Valley. Admire the heritage houses, steam equipment, and the sawmill anytime between dawn and dusk. Maps are available in our courtyard at the site office. Visit McLean Mill website for hours and more information.
Echo Aquatic and Fitness Centre
Get your heart racing with some cardio or weights, or do some laps in the Echo Aquatic and Fitness Centre, then soak away your stress in the whirlpool. This fully accessible facility offers classes and instruction, and is open from 6am – 9pm Monday – Friday, and 8am – 8pm on weekends.