Port Alberni Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by canuck68
  • Things to Do
    by canuck68
  • The Frances Barkley home from a day trip.
    The Frances Barkley home from a day...
    by canuck68

Most Recent Things to Do in Port Alberni

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    First Nations

    by canuck68 Updated Feb 22, 2014

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    There are many First Nations (Native) people living here. Their presence is becoming increasingly strong.\Therefore it is possible to view/buy many native crafts.

    The picture below is of two large carvings which sit near the Somass River. One figure welcomes those coming to town from the river and the other faces the main street where many tourists pass through to the West Coast and hopefully stay and look around our town.

    Welcoming Carvings Tours Available

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    Viewpoint out over Sproat Lake

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Dec 4, 2012

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    As you approach Sproat Lake from Tofino and Ucluelet in the south, there's a signpost for a viewpoint out over Sproat Lake. From the road, there is no well defined path to follow, so you'll end up doing some scrambling and a little bush bashing in order to look out over the lake.

    Frankly the view isn't hugely spectacular compared to what you'll already have seen driving along the shore of Lake Kennedy, so personally I'd give it a miss and keep driving an extra few kilometres to the Sproat Lake turnoff, where you can park your car and take a gentle (and flat) stroll to the lake shore.

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    Home to the Martin Mars water bombers

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Dec 4, 2012

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    Float planes are so much part of the British Columbian landscape that I didn't register at first that there was anything unusual about the red and white planes moored on Sproat Lake. Until I realised that it was in fact massive and the only reason why this wasn't immediately apparent was because it was dwarfed against the backdrop of the enormous lake.

    That's because these float planes aren't meant for transporting people and light goods: they are the frontline of Vancouver Island's forest fire defence system. The Martin Mars water bombers are the largest water bombers in the world, and are capable of transporting up to 27 tons of water, which they scoop off the lake surface - it must be quite a sight to behold.

    If you'd like to learn more about these leviathan float planes, it is apparently possible to visit the Coulson Flying Tankers Centre off Cherry Creek Road, although we didn't have the time to do so.

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    A town that's a very counterintuitive tsunami risk

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Nov 28, 2012

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    My first impression of Port Alberni was one of astonishment - how could a settlement 40km inland from the coast display a 'tsunami risk' signboard on the town limits? But despite my double take, there it still was, so I made a mental note to raise the issue with our local VTer, the delightful canuck68 when we met up a few days later.

    Almost unbelievably, the sign is not a prank to confound gullible tourists, but is a genuine hazard warning. And, what's more, the risk is not just a 'theoretical possibility', but a genuine reality, as Port Alberni was struck by a tsunami on Good Friday 1964, when a wall of water tore up the Alberni Inlet from the Pacific Ocean at an unimaginable speed of 360km/h, cresting 3m above the high water mark.

    The tsunami was triggered by a massive earthquake off Anchorage, Alaska, which registered 8.5 on the Richter scale and was so powerful that it forced the local seabed to rise by 15m. The waves generated by the shock were intensified by the funnel shaped geometry of the Inlet's mouth served to funnel the tsunami, and in all six waves hit Port Alberni over what must have been a terrifying seven hour period.

    Unbelievably, there were no casualties, although there was huge damage to buildings and property.

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    Port Alberni's fantastic salmon fountain

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Nov 27, 2012

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    It's no secret that I'm a great fan of municipal sculpture, especially when it reflects the historical or cultural context of its location, so it's unsurprising that I fell in love with the salmon fountain at the Harbour Quay in Port Alberni.

    Salmon have been part of this local ecosystem for a very long time. The oldest salmon fossil found in B.C. dates back 50 million years, and the relationship between the First Nation inhabitants of the region and the salmon of their traditional fishing grounds has a strong spiritual dimension. Port Alberni's love affair with fish in general - and salmon in particular - was formally recognised in 2010, when it was recognised as the Ultimate Fishing Town by the World Fishing Network.

    This fountain incorporates about half a dozen beautifully carved salmon figures, fashioned from a variety of local types of stone with different surface textures. Just lovely.

    If you're visiting this area in autumn and would like to see the salmon for yourself, I would highly recommend a visit to the lovely Stamp River Falls, only 12km east of town, where a 'salmon ladder' has been constructed to help the fish reach their spawning grounds upstream.

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    The salmon 'ladder' at Stamp River Falls

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Nov 27, 2012

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    It's almost impossible to overstate the significance of salmon to the culture and economy of British Columbia: in 2011, the salmon fishing industry directly contributed C$30 million to the B.C. economy, which translated to a post processing value in excess of C$100 million. That's big money by anyone's standards, so it's not surprising that the salmon fishery is carefully managed to safeguard its sustainability.

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    Glorious fall colour at Sproat Lake

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Nov 27, 2012

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    We visited Vancouver Island in mid October. The timing was dictated by business commitments rather than choice, but one of the attractions was the hope that we would experience some of the Fall colours.

    In this regard, our experience was a little disappointing. Although the timing was good, our visit came right at the end of a Biblical-sounding 40 day drought - almost unheard of in a place that receives several metres of rain a year - and the lack of rain apparently impeded the development of the autumn colours. Then, to add insult to injury, it seemed that during our four days on the Island, the majority of rain that should have falled over the preceding month was dumped on our heads in an unremitting deluge!

    Some of the best colour we saw was at Sproat Lake, and with the fleeting spectacle of sunlight shining through the foliage, we had a tantalising taster of how beautiful the Fall colours must be under more conducive conditions.

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    Port Alberni's bright and breezy Harbour Quay

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Nov 27, 2012

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    The obvious place for tourists to begin their visit to Port Alberni is to head for the Harbour Quay, which is located at the end of Argyle Street, abutting Alberni Inlet. It overlooks a working harbour, which counterintuitively is a salt water port, linking to the Pacific Ocean 40km to the west.

    I suspect that the Quay has undergone significant gentrification in recent years, and the effort has been well worth it. It's an attractive spot, with several art galleries and places to east and drink, set against the picturesque backdrop of the inlet.

    For me, one of the most pleasing aspects of the Quay is the municipal artwork that is on display, much of which reflects the town's love affair with the local salmon. There are several pieces of First Nation wooden sculpture, but my particular favourite is the gorgeous salmon fountain which is situated in the parking area.

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    Some people get REALLY into Halloween!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Nov 27, 2012

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    For me, Halloween is the quintessential North American festival, and for this reason, I particularly enjoy visiting in the late autumn so that I can enjoy the preparations, if not the celebrations themselves.

    But there's enthusiasm, and then there'll obsessive excess, and I suspect that this house falls into the latter category! This celebration of the creepy is located outside Port Alberni on the way to the lovely Stamp River Falls and is presumably a seasonal attraction. The impact of the OTT decorations is enhanced by location of the house just after a bend in the road, so as you turn the corner, you are confronted by an unexpected gathering of skeletons and ghosts.

    One can only begin to imagine how these people decorate for Christmas ...

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    Visit Echo Center

    by canuck68 Updated May 30, 2012

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    Echo Centre is the community gathering place. It is a fairly large complex housing the swimming pool and facilities, the museum, library and meeting rooms. It is a busy place but there is lots of parking.
    The Echo Sunshine Club (Seniors) is a large group for the over 55's and very active. Their activities are numerous and include carpet bowling and other sports plus interesting tours, hiking, and much much more.

    Outside Echo Center Complex

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    Visit The Harbour Quay

    by canuck68 Updated Mar 9, 2012

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    The Harbour Quay is a favorite meeting place for locals and tourists alike. There is a variety of stores which are discussed in "Shopping"; a variety of eating places; and tables outside where you can bring your coffee or tea etc. and visit with friends as you breathe in the fresh sea air.

    Tourists can get the MV Frances Barkley from their office at the Quay. It is on the right as you walk toward the water.

    Fish can be purchased from the Fish Market which is by the Office where you get tickets for the Frances Barkley.

    You can just walk around and enjoy the views of the boats in the harbor, the people and the beautiful Alberni Inlet.

    Sign at the entrance to the Quay MV Frances Barkley. Book a day trip!! Fresh fish here. Enjoy the view Another view of the harbor.
    Related to:
    • Kayaking
    • Family Travel
    • Photography

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    Water Activities in Port Alberni

    by canuck68 Updated Mar 8, 2012

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    We are blessed with lots of water in Port Alberni and the many activities that go with it.
    Fishing is very popular. You can rent a boat or join a charter on the Somass River. Or just go for a pleasure trip down the Alberni Canal.
    At Sproat Lake (which is very large) you can view the Coulson Water Bombers. They are gigantic.
    The swimming is excellent and related activities such as water skiing, tubing and so on are prevalent. In summer the water is warm and also clean.

    A day trip on the M.V. Frances Barkley is a special treat enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

    The Frances Barkley home from a day trip. Somass River Somass River in March Port Alberni Harbor

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    Fishing

    by canuck68 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Port Alberni sits at the head of a canal which ends at the Pacific Ocean on the west side of Vancouver Island. There are mountains on each side of the canal and many tourists and residents take advantage of the huge tyee salmon which come up in August and September.

    By visiting the Clutesi Marina or the China Creek Marina you can be set up with a charter. It is probably best to contact one of these places ahead of your planned visit.

    The Clutesi Marina is situated at the bottom of Johnson Road on the Somass River. The phone number there is 724-6837.

    Sun on the Fishing Boats Sunset after a hot day To keep you safe. Somass River looking down river.

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    Visit The Theatre

    by canuck68 Updated Jul 27, 2010

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    We have an active group of thespians in Port Alberni. The Capitol Theatre, pictured below is completely renovated and serves as a wonderful backdrop for some very talented actors.

    If you are in town, phone the theatre or drop by to see if anything is currently playing. I think you will enjoy the outing.

    Capitol Theatre
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Seniors

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    Have Coffee With Friends at the Harbor Quay

    by canuck68 Written Aug 30, 2009

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    The Harbor Quay is a popular place for locals and tourists alike to meet and have coffee in a great sea air environment. There are many shops to browse in and also places to get a snack or more and, if the weather is good, enjoy it on a table outside overlooking the Canal.

    Carving at end of walkway. Fountain at the Harbor Quay Taken from the Harbour The Sitting on edge of the Pier.

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