Post Last Modified – April 20, 2021
Visit The Alberni Valley Heritage Network in Port Alberni
Table of Contents
Situated in the City of Port Alberni, British Columbia on Vancouver Island is the wonderful Alberni Heritage Network. This includes major historic attractions including;
The Alberni Pacific Steam Railway and Historic McLean Mill
Fun and Educational Attractions the Whole Family Will Enjoy!
Port Alberni is located on the west coast of Canada on beautiful Vancouver Island. The city is enroute to world famous Tofino, BC and the famed Long Beach. There is so much to see and do, making this a perfect stop for those coming to or from the Islands rugged west coast.
First, check out my short video I put together on these amazing attractions for you and your family to enjoy while visiting Port Alberni. Don’t forget to turn your speakers on! 🙂
Alberni Heritage Attractions – YouTube Video
Our Day At The Alberni Valley Heritage Network
The Alberni Pacific Steam Railway and Historic McLean Mill
Your combined tour will take a full 5 hours. This includes two rides on the Steam Train and the Historic McLean Mill.
At the Mill, you can actually view this historic mill still in operation today. As well, there’s a wonderful old time Steam Donkey Logging presentation. These tours offer a fabulous look at how logging was done in the early 1900’s, and how things have drastically changed today.
Before beginning your train journey, take a stroll inside the Train Stations Museum. Here volunteers have spent countless hours restoring and preserving some amazing pieces of machinery from years past.
Restored Port Alberni Fire Truck
Such items include a completely restored City Fire Truck, Old Logging Truck, Machinery and much more!
Alberni Heritage Network Volunteer
A great way to start your historic journey into the past!
The Alberni Heritage Network Pacific Steam Railway
Alberni Pacific Steam Railway Engineers
Start your historical day by boarding the painstakingly restored 1929 Steam Locomotive. This is a fun 30 to 40 minute open air train ride, taking you from downtown and through dense forested sections of the city. Your ride eventually takes you to the McLean Mill National Historic Site.
This Steam Engine was used heavily as a logging locomotive years ago, and is a perfect addition to this all-inclusive tour!
Everyone will enjoy this ride up to the Mill which you get to do a second time on the way back!
The train is a major attraction in the city for both visitors and locals alike. As you make your way up the track, crossing along the city streets, you can’t help but wave to those in their vehicles waiting at the crossing for the train to pass as the steam whistle blows!
Added Fun Attractions on Your Train Journey
The kids will simply love this and as an adult, you won’t be able to wipe that smile off your face!
Long Time Resident “Sally” Dressing Up for Train Passengers
The Historic McLean Mill Guided Tour
After a scenic 30 to 40 minute ride, the train will come to a stop at the McLean Mill Site. Here, you will be greeted by the Mill’s friendly hosts and brief you on what is about to take place on your tour.
There is a lovely café on site with delicious homemade selections prepared on location. There is also a gift shop and exhibits for you to enjoy while waiting for the Steam Donkey Presentation.
One of the Many Original Mill Buildings on Site
R.B.McLean and Sons operated this mill from 1925 to 1965, for almost 40 years! The site depicts a typical lumber camp you would come across in the wilderness at that time, complete with steam operated sawmill and logging equipment.
An Original Mill Residence
After the mill closed, the owners simply abandoned the site leaving much of what you will see on this Historic Property. From the steam operated mill, logger’s residences and work buildings, to heavy duty machinery, vehicles and much more.
Everything you see has been painstakingly restored by dedicated volunteers, helping to preserve British Columbia’s logging and sawmill history.
A tremendous feat and effort for those individuals involved in preserving this important part of history!
Abandoned Heavy Machinery After Mill’s Closing
With support from Federal, Provincial and Local Authorities since 1995, McLean Mill site is still in the process of further restoration and projects that will continue to preserve this historic landmark.
As you walk among the buildings and exhibits, you can’t help but feel a touch of what life and work was like for people working in this industry almost 90 years ago!
Remnants of an Abandoned Mill Truck
Alberni Heritage Network Mill and Steam Donkey Logging Presentation
Steam Donkey Logging Demonstration
Volunteers on site will demonstrate this completely restored and working steam operated logging equipment and sawmill. This was labor intensive work during this period as you will see, compared to mills now operated automatically by machines with a push of a button from controllers.
A great and educational sawmill and logging demonstration put on by staff and volunteers on site.
Original Steam Operated Sawmill Completely Restored
The Steam Donkey demonstration will show how the logs were moved and stacked after been cut down. The live presentation will also show how the logs are then moved onto logging trucks where they are then moved from the forest to the mill.
A very enjoyable and worthwhile presentation put on by these dedicated individuals!
Old Time Steam Machinery Display
Amazing Historic Steam Engine Exhibition
We happened to time our visit just perfect, as the site was preparing for an old tractor and steam engine exhibition. We were able to view and watch many historical steam engines move about the property in preparation for the weekend event.
What a special treat that was!
Old Wooden Caboose Rail Car
Early 1900’s Original Wooden Caboose Rail Car
Tucked away and not something you will run into every day, is an actual wooden caboose rail car inside an old covered shed. Staff feel this car dates back to the very early 1900’s and are trying their best to keep it covered and preserved for years to come.
A very special addition to the Alberni Heritage Network McLean Mill Site!
Alberni Heritage Network Volunteers
Chatting with “Jack” Logger and Volunteer
As mentioned, most of the staff on site are all locals who volunteer their time and hard work, making this historical site a reality for all of us to enjoy for years to come.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jack, who is a legend at McLean Mill! Jack began logging in British Columbia when he was just 11 years of age. Today he is in his late 80’s and still volunteers his time assisting with the logging demonstration.
It was a pleasure to meet him and here some of his stories of logging when times were really rough!
Jack chatting with Our Amazing Guide for the day David
We had a wonderful full 5 hour tour on our visit and stay in Port Alberni. If your plans are taking you to this part of Vancouver Island, then I do recommend checking out the Alberni Heritage Network and Attractions.
The 🚂 Steam Train is a must and during special times and occasions they offer themed train rides which are a huge hit! These include a Western Style Train Robbery Ride, Special Christmas Rides and much more!
Below, I have included the Alberni Valley Heritage Network’s official website for your convenience. On their site you can access much more detailed information, including all the Networks attractions, upcoming events, times of operation and much more.
- 🚂 Heritage Network
As well, be sure to check out the Alberni Valley’s Official Tourism website for area attractions, accommodations, activities and more!
- 🏔 Alberni Valley Tourism
Safe and Healthy Travels! 🙂
Although our visit was in collaboration with The Alberni Heritage Network, rest assured all content and opinions are that of the author and reflect my personal experience only.
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