Discover Alberni Episode 23: Industry

Port Alberni has a rich industrial history centred around the temperate rainforest and the Pacific Ocean. After the first European settlers arrived collecting and processing natural resources helped set the foundation for this emerging city. 

The forestry industry has had an impactful influence in Port Alberni's early beginnings. Various companies have owned mills throughout the city and those mill jobs along with the associated logging jobs have supported many families as their livelihood. 

Third Avenue, the main connector between the Alberni pacific division and the pulp and paper mill, served as the historical strip where millworkers showed off their cool rides as they cruised through the city. The mills were the pulse of the economy and pushed its growth into the 21st century. 

The 49 km long deep water, Alberni Inlet played a huge role in Port Alberni's industrial heritage. Large barges commonly sailed deep into the inlet to mills like the ABD to load up on graded Canadian headed for destinations like Japan. The booming echo of the wood dropping onto the boat could be heard blocks away.

The extra wide road of Third Avenue has accommodated many logging trucks over the years. Sometimes on hot summer days the weight of these trucks even sank into the concrete making indents in the road itself.

The Alberni Inlet was not just used for transporting logs and lumber. Both commercial and sport fishing has a long and storied history in the Alberni Valley. Nicknamed the salmon capital of the world, Barkley Sound, the Alberni Inlet, and neighbouring rivers are home to spawning salmon each year. Sockeye, Coho and Chinook salmon are all common visitors. 

While the forestry and fishing industries have weakened over time, they still play a vital roll in modern Port Alberni's economy. Today, Port Alberni's economy has diversified with tourism and the service industry playing a bigger roll to supplement the ongoing resource based industries. 

The pulp and paper mill which is now owned and operated by Paper Excellence is still one of the top employers in the city. The mill produces paper products recycled from the sawdust from nearby sawmills. 

Recently the San Group has come to Port Alberni. Quickly establishing itself as a major employer and corporate pillar in the community. The companies overall mission is centred around value added manufacturing, by developing methods to utilize each log harvested to its highest degree. 

Part of Port Alberni's recent economic diversification and resurgence has centred around the blue economy. New signs of prosperity are evident all along the south end of Port Alberni's waterfront. Noteworthy players along the waterfront are Canadian Maritime Engineering Operations, the new food hub at the dock; Lady Rose Marine Services, Western Canada Marine Response Corporation at the water street dock and of course the iconic Harbour Quay. 

Award winning Breweries and Distilleries are another emerging industry in Port Alberni. Twin City Brewing, Dog Mountain Brewing and Alberni Brewing have all opened in the past decade. And while Industry is certainly evolving in Port Alberni, the legacy of Port Alberni's industrial heritage is everywhere in the Valley. 

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