Posted on May 25, 2009
ISLAND PROFILE: PORT ALBERNI
Port Alberni is one of those Island towns that’s often the target of misconception, usually by those who have yet to discover its charm. I must admit that, for me, Port Alberni has always only ever been a pit stop en route to the west coast of the Island. However, I’ve always said that it’s somewhere I could easily see myself living someday.
Photo: mkischuk on Flickr
Located at the heart of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, what makes Port Alberni so interesting from a geographical standpoint is that it’s essentially on the water despite a mid-Island location. With rich First Nations roots, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribe – formerly known as the Nootka – were the original inhabitants of the area. In the late 1700s, the area was discovered by Spanish explorers with Port Alberni eventually named after Captain Don Pedro de Alberni.
With its location being the half-way point between the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island and being on an accessible waterway, Port Alberni is naturally a port town that once thrived on Vancouver Island’s abundant logging industry. While fishing and mining also had their place in Port Alberni’s economic history, the area is now not only a service and supply gateway for communities such as Ucluelet and Tofino, but is also drawing people with its fantastic tourism and eco-tourism opportunities.
Photo: tay-ha on Flickr
Residents and visitors alike are known to partake in hiking, kayaking, mountain-biking and both freshwater and marine fishing.
Original Photo: Logantech on Flickr
With a population hovering around the 30,000 mark, Port Alberni is a melting pot for what is new and what it historical. The town is still home to many First Nations reserves as well as unique neighbourhoods of decades-old homes and newer developments that are living proof that Port Alberni is still a town that’s thriving.
Photo: gak on Flickr
There is something almost equally ethereal and isolating about Port Alberni, being nestled into a valley and surrounded by majestic mountains. The chances of experiencing Mother Nature at her finest are at every turn with an abundance of nearly undiscovered hiking trails and as many lakes as there are raindrops. Spotting a bear or cougar in your travels would not be unexpected.
Photo: Jennoit on Flickr
While each spot on Vancouver Island has its own essence, I believe that Port Alberni defines the essence of the entire Island and its people in so many ways, each begging to be discovered. Next time you’re on your way to the far side of the Island, take some time to stop and explore what the city of “bear tracks and lumberjacks” has to offer to you.
Photo: Kaimmakam on Flickr
For more information on Port Alberni and the Alberni Valley, please visit some of the links below: