Carved deeply from the west coast far into central Vancouver Island is the narrow Alberni Inlet. Sheltered from tumultuous Pacific exposures salmon and sailors alike run up the waterway toward the Stamp River’s freshwater at the inlets head. The long-standing town site of Port Alberni arranged at the base of beautiful mountains aside sheltered deep water marinas greets travelers to the ancestral lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth translated as “all along the mountains and sea”.
Port Alberni was known as a logging an fishing town for many decades. The last decade and a half it has been trying to become a tourist town instead of a stop over to the Pacific Rim. British Columbia’s first sawmill started in 1860 and this first mill began the forestry industry of the Alberni Valley that eventually extended across the world as it has up until present day.
Canada’s first female Prime Minister who held office in 1947 also hails from Port Alberni and the cirt provides the shore station of Neptune Canada’s 800 km (500 mile) electro fibre optic cable.
Sproat Lake is a popular recreational and camping destination just outside of town. Explore the fresh waters with a line and lure trolling behind you as you cruise the sheltered bays and long stretches. Houseboats are available for rent, making for a relaxing summer getaway under your own power and pace. For a more adrenaline filled experience the 25km (16 mile) four-armed lake is also a popular water sports destination and hosts the BCWSA PRO/AM Wakeboard Tour at the beginning of August.
Explore nearby trail networks for a variety of day hiking opportunities.
Maps for the Alberni Inlet Trail, Fossli Park Trail, Greenmax Trail, Log Train Trail, Maplehurst and Sayachlas ta taa’nin Trails are available at the Visitor Centre.
Go see Port Alberni’s old water bomber or explore the old steam train. The water bomber is located on Great Central lake. Check with the visitors center as you come into town for more information.
Fishing salmon stocks and harvesting lumber from the rich temperate rainforests nearby put the town on the map as European settlers arrived in the mid 19th century. Port Alberni is know for its runs of sockeye salmon in late June and most of July. The steelhead fishing during winter months is also good from January to March.
For an alternative from the popular Highway 4 to the west coast, try the MV Francis Barkley who finds her berth in Port Alberni. She ferries passengers and supplies for day cruises along the coast from Port Alberni to Bamfield and Ucluelet. For schedules and rates visit Lady Rose Marine Services.