Port Alberni’s Harbour Quay offers a little bit of something for everyone of all ages

Salmon fountain at Harbour Quay

The fountain at the centre of the quay acknowledges the great contribution that salmon have made to the local economy

Like many towns that have in the past been heavily dependent on natural resources for their existence, Port Alberni has struggled over the past few decades to survive the downturns that have knocked the stuffing out of local economies. But, true to form,  Port’s big heart and determination are making progress in that department thanks to a number of initiatives designed to attract tourism dollars to the Alberni Valley.

Port Alberni waterfront

The quay affords views of all sorts of interesting waterfront activity

            To my mind one of the best projects has been the conversion of a portion of the heavily-industrialized downtown waterfront to the Alberni Harbour Quay, an eclectic grouping of small businesses centred around a working waterfront setting. The quay has been in existence for some years now and plays host to weekly farmers and craft markets on the weekends as well as serving as a permanent home to galleries, shops and an interesting mix of food-related vendors. You can find everything from fresh-made doughnuts to casual meals to fine dining at the quay, and if you just want to share a coffee and visit with friends there are places where you can do that, too.

Clock Tower Gallery

The Clock Tower Gallery offers only Made in Canada items – all unique and beautifully executed

One of the most striking things about the Alberni Harbour Quay is the obvious ongoing respect for the creatures, industry and history that have contributed to the town’s prosperity over the years.  The quay is centred by an attractive fountain featuring salmon – one of the big economic drivers in the ‘good old days.’ (And not so long ago they were, either). There are great views in all directions of fishboats and other marine-oriented businesses, and a little  further up the inlet you can still see the pulp mill at work.  The installation of new equipment at the mill in recent years has all but eliminated the stench that used to emanate from its stacks and spew fly ash all over town – which means the usual tourist excuse for bypassing Port Alberni as a destination has all but disappeared too. Even the children’s playground features nautically-themed equipment – a further tip of the hat to the marine orientation of the city.

At Alberni Harbour Quay
Visitors and locals alike enjoy a visit at the quay

            The recently opened Centennial Pier has added a new dimension to the quay over the past year.  Stretching out in to the inlet it affords great views of wildlife, water, mountains and city, as well as serving as a valuable breakwater for Fishermens’ Harbour. And, if you want some really spectacular views, climb the clock tower.

            Harbour Quay is a little out of the way and takes a bit of finding, but it is worth the trouble. It offers a refreshing look at a town that is working hard to re-invent itself, and a great break from everyday cares.  What can be better than a fresh breeze off the water, beautiful scenery and a decadent treat or great gallery find?  Not much, we think.

Centennial Pier at Alberni Harbour Quay

The new Centennial Pier breakwater has added a new dimension to the quay

Alberni Harbour Quay is located at the foot of Argyle Street in downtown Port Alberni.

            GPS co-ordinates are:

 Lat.  49.23442732946449

Long.  -124.81503009796142

N 49 14.066  W 124 48.902


About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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2 Responses to Port Alberni’s Harbour Quay offers a little bit of something for everyone of all ages

  1. Ron Strong says:

    I would like to take this opportunity to say how much I enjoy the Harbour Quay. It is one of the jewels of the city of Port Alberni. It is a wonderful meeting space for locals and tourists alike offering stunning views, wonderful shopping, and entertainment.
    There is one criticism I have though and feel a need to share that with whom ever is in charge of the evening entertainment through the summer. I have been down at the Quay on many an evening to find bands set up and playing in the most bewildering of spots, leaving the audience scattered among parked vehicles in nooks and cranny’s trying to find a place to set up a chair where they can see the performers.
    Spirit square at these times sits full of parked cars. It seems to me that you have created a perfect place to hold the entertainment with the creation of the square. Banning vehicles from the square and putting a small stage and some seating would create a space where the entertainment can be enjoyed by all without having to keep an eye out for passing cars when those who want to dance choose to do so and will offer a space where the visual line of sight is not constantly interrupted by passing motorists who are visiting the quay and are looking for a place to park.
    Just a suggestion.
    I will continue to enjoy the beauty and ambience of the Harbour Quay.
    Thank you for creating and maintaing such a wonderful place in the heart of the city.
    Ron Strong

    • Shirley Shirley says:

      Thanks for your comments. I have a meeting with the CEO of the Alberni Chamber of Commerce this week and will relay your thoughts.

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