Salmon at Port Alberni

Stamp Falls, upstreamWe decided to break our journey from Victoria to the mid-island Pacific Coast at Port Alberni. This city, although nearer the island’s East coast, is a deep water port sitting on the Alberni Inlet estuary’ which stretches all the way to the Pacific. Local industries of logging, papermaking and fishing are giving way to more tourist-driven activities. We were encouraged to visit Stamp Falls Provincial Park where we found the salmon making their annual run up to their spawning grounds upstream. Over 40 million fish, mainly salmon, traverse this area every year. Recognizing the importance of the salmon fishing industry, both commercial and recreational, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans has built a ‘fish ladder’ route to make the passage upstream easier, particularly when water levels are low. The fish ladder resembles a zig-zag hiking trail up the side of a mountain, making the grade easier for the upstream battle. Waiting their turnWe were fascinated, not only by the quantity of fish making their way up the ladder, but by the scene below the falls, reminding us of the San Diego Freeway in LA. Some salmon did not find the ‘easy way’ up but were attempting the leap up the steepest area of the falls (see movie below).

Nearby, we visited McLean Sawmill which operated commercially between 1926 to 1965. More recently, thanks to support from a local Paper-making Company, it has been put back into working order and is now the only steam driven mill in Canada, operating commercially two days a week providing cut boards for local use. The Mill was closed for the season when we visited so we gave ourselves a self-guided tour.

Snack breakWe heard local rumors of bears having been spotted fishing in the river off Victoria Quay in the middle of town so we decided to dine in our van there in hopes of seeing one. As the light was failing, Cheryl (always the eagle-eyed one) spotted a Black Bear wandering up the opposite river bank pausing occasionally for a dip and a bite in the river. Thanks to our highly developed ‘point and shoot’ system (Cheryl points, I shoot) we managed to get a couple of decent photos.

On our way from Port Alberni on the Pacific Rim Highway over the beautiful mountain pass to Ucluelet, we encountered an unusual phenomenon. Hundreds of padlocks and other items attached to a safety fence near one of the streams. These are apparently known as ‘Lovelocks’, left by couples expressing their undying devotion to each other by attaching an engraved padlock to bridge railings and throwing the key away. Apparently this practice began in Paris, lovers attaching locks to the Pont des Arts. However, when the magnitude of the practice reached the point where part of the bridge railing collapsed under the weight of 45 tons of locks, they were removed by the Paris Authorities. This barrier has a way to go before collapsing.

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Salmon moving upstream and attempting the waterfall jump

  • Port Alberni, BC

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    Port Alberni, BC Canada

  • 3 Comments on “Salmon at Port Alberni

    1. Oh…those determined little salmon. Trying so hard to go upstream so they can spawn, and then we know what happens. It’s very touching, and thanks for sending the movie along with the still shots. As for your Point and Shoot method…you have mastered it! Glad you were able to catch that bear hunting for his/her dinner. Did you two ever get a salmon dinner? And I want that fish bench for our garden! I so love all the wonderful carvings on Vancouver Island. I never got around to commenting on Butchart Gardens …. such a spectacular place! Never too many flower photos, especially the fuchsia!
      From Cheryl: I felt so terribly sad for the salmon. Why would nature make it so difficult for them to reproduce? They have it more tough than most other living things. We did eat salmon, on salads and as a dinner. Delicious. Glad you enjoyed the gardens shots too, I’m sure we overdid them to some of our readers, but then, as you said, for you, never too many especially the fuchsia. Thanks so much sweet Marge.

    2. Moral of the salmon story: going back to the place of your birth is never easy.
      From Cheryl: OK, I thought the other caption was perfect. But this one is even more perfect. Wow, I should have you write the captions! Love your sense of humor.

    3. Just wanted to let you know how close we are to your travels. My Grandfather ran the paper mill in Pt. Alberni in the late 40’s. I just showed my Mother the pictures from your blog. My nephew was able to project them on the tv for her. The video of the salmon jumping was fun. Continue great travels!
      From Cheryl: How fun that you even showed our pictures to your Mother. How wonderful that it could bring back great memories for you all. Thanks for your good wishes.

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