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Saw Mills and Steam Trains in Port Alberni

Posted by Tall Ships America on July 18, 2008

Posted by Karen


Port Alberni, a quaint little mill town tucked away in the rugged wilderness of Vancouver Island, has all the heart and spirit of a city ten times its size. Beginning with the magnificent mountain panoramas at every angle, and ending with the unparalleled small town hospitality, Port Alberni encapsulates everything a Tall Ships port should.

When the ships arrived on Thursday, we attended a captain’s reception at an old saw mill, where we were welcomed by the mayor of Port Alberni himself. The town arranged for transportation to the event aboard a steam engine train, with an energetic engineer narrating along the way. As we crept slowly up the hills and deeper into the evergreens, the air smelled fresh and clean, and we reclined in our seats and enjoyed the incredible views. Every person we passed waved jubilantly at the little train making its way slowly along the tracks. The event itself was catered by neighbors and friends of Tall Ships liaisons, and we sipped on native British Columbian wine from a local vineyard while chatting with the elated inhabitants of the surrounding area.

After a brief meet and greet, the captains were each formally presented with a cedar plank for salmon cooking, and given the chance to speak to the crowd. All of the captains agreed that Port Alberni deserves the highest praise for hosting the Tall Ships, and thanked the local people for their generosity and warmth. We will be sad to see the Port Alberni event come to a close tomorrow, as we board the Canadian naval vessel HMCS Oriole for the long transit to San Francisco.

  HMCS ORIOLE, home for the next 10 days



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