An elemental natural landscape of mountains, forest, rivers, lakes and ocean is the key defining factor in the history and ongoing cultural story of the Alberni Valley.
Port Alberni wouldn't have existed if not for the Alberni Inlet, a narrow saltwater channel leading to a deep-water port nicely isolated from the tempestuous weather patterns on Vancouver Island's west coast. Seemingly unlimited natural resources – trees and bountiful salmon stocks primarily – put the town on the map as European settlers arrived in the mid-19th century.
First Nations Roots
The Alberni Valley and the mid-west coast of Vancouver Island are the traditional ancestral lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth (translation: "all along the mountains and sea"). Two among the nation's 14 bands reside in the Alberni Valley: the Tseshaht First Nation (whose people were based in the Barkley Sound/Alberni Inlet area) and the Hupacasath First Nation of the Alberni Valley.