History of Port Alberni
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Audio recording of Jan Peterson's February 2001 presentation to the Nanaimo Historical Society about the history of Port Alberni. Peterson, an author of multiple books about the Alberni Valley, focuses her talk on the area’s history from 1856, when Adam Grant Horne was the first white person to explore the region, to 1967, when the “twin cities” of Alberni and Port Alberni amalgamated to form a single municipality. Peterson chronicles the region’s long standing involvement with the forestry industry, starting in 1860, when workmen arrived to build the Anderson sawmill. Early settlers, transportation, newspapers, politics, mining, and fishing in the area are also covered. Peterson details several notable event’s in Port Alberni’s history including: the “Great Trek” of 1934, where striking loggers marched from Parksville to Great Central Lake; the June 23, 1946 Vancouver Island earthquake; and the devastating March 27, 1964 tsunami. Peterson discusses the lead up to amalgamation between Alberni and Port Alberni, including the tenure of the first woman mayor on Vancouver Island, Mabel Anderson of Alberni, who opposed the merger. Peterson concludes her talk with a brief update about Port Alberni since amalgamation, focusing on the challenges in the forest industry, including decreased demand and environmental and Indigenous opposition.