Canada’s only National Historic Site with an operating steam sawmill is a short ride from the 1912 train station. You can drive to the site just north of Port Alberni, or ride on the 1929 No. 7 Baldwin steam locomotive to the mill site in the forest where a theatre group makes your history lesson fun and easy to remember.
The McLean Mill began as an independent logging and lumber mill business and continued until 1965, then rested in quiet retirement until almost three decades later. It has been brought back into operation, and open to the public. You’ll see the 1947 Hayes logging truck, the 1938 Allis Chalmer grader, and the 1938 locally manufactured lumber carrier.
Many recovered implements are back in use, camp buildings and family dwelling restored.
Beware of train robbers! Mill ‘paydays’ have been known to attract train robbers on horseback, hoping to steal the payroll on its way to the mill employees.
The Heritage Society is renovating the former city arena, as a restorative workshop and potential museum. The building, which houses an extensive collection of antique logging trucks and other large industrial equipment, will eventually operate as a showcase as well. Watch for a ‘work-in-progress’ museum to emerge.
Located in the Echo Centre pool, activity centre and library complex, is another unique and superior Alberni Valley Museum – bursting with collections that are made accessible to the public through a visible storage display system; no artifacts are locked away in closed storage – everything is on view at all times.
Visit the “Changing Exhibits Gallery” on site. The story of Nuu-cha-nuth First Nation and European settlements reflect the aboriginal hunting, fishing and food gathering technology – all crafted without the use of metals, and the intricate style of wrapped twining with shore grasses and cedar bark, crafted by native women of th3 West Coast. You’ll marvel at the exceptional basketry collection.
Pioneer life for European settlers to the Valley, is well documented with memorabilia. Local newspaper archives, extensive photographic archival history, visiting displays, and educational tours for students are a rich part of our community’s resource centre, manned mostly by trained volunteers.