Port Alberni is a city located in the province of British Columbia in Canada. It is the seat of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. The city has a total population of 17,743, and the census agglomeration area a total of 25,396.
Port Alberni lies within the Alberni Valley at the head of the Alberni Inlet, Vancouver Island's longest inlet. Port Alberni is dubbed the "Salmon Capital of the World." Recently the salmon population has decreased significantly in Port Alberni and other areas of British Columbia.
Port Alberni is the sister-city to Abashiri in northern Japan. Each year many students participate in student exchange programs between the two cities. Port Alberni was named for Captain Don Pedro de Alberni, a Spanish officer, who commanded Fort San Miguel at Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island's west coast from 1790 to 1792.
Illustration from Indian Legends of Vancouver Island by Alfred Carmichael Before Europeans came, Alberni and the West Coast of Vancouver Island was the traditional territory of the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council. The Nuu-chah-nulth were previously called the Nootka. Many place names in Port Alberni have a Nuu-chah-nulth origin, such as Somass (washing), Kitsuksis (log across mouth of creek), Pacheena (foamy), and Nootka (go around). Ancient petroglyph carvings can be found at Sproat Lake.
In March of 1787, Captain Charles William Barkley of the Imperial Eagle, explored Barkley Sound, which now bears his name. Barkley travelled with his 17-year-old bride, Frances Barkley, the first European woman to visit what is now British Columbia. Frances Barkley is also the name of one of the two vessels that makes trips down the Alberni Inlet from Port Alberni to Bamfield and Ucluelet. The other is the MV Lady Rose.
In 1856, Adam Horne, a Scottish fur trader employed by the Hudson's Bay Company, was directed to locate a land route across Vancouver Island. There were stories that the natives used a trail starting at Qualicum. Adam Horne found this trail leading to the Alberni Valley and it became known as the Horne Lake Trail. Many other settlers used this trail to get to the Alberni Valley.
Anderson Sawmill Port Alberni, B.C. 1863 In 1860, the Anderson company (a sawmilling company) from London England, took the advice of their Victoria agent Captain Edward Stamp and set up a sawmill operation. At the time, the American Civil War prevented the importation of timber from the southern United States. Gilbert Sproat and Edward Stamp transported men and machinery to Alberni. They received land grants from Governor James Douglas and started running the Anderson sawmill at the mouth of the Somass River in August 1861. The first mill in B.C. was built to export lumber. The original mill failed, but several others were established in the 1880s. Sproat Lake was named after Gilbert Sproat and Stamp Falls and Stamp River were named after Edward Stamp.