Nope, this is not a repeat post. I lived in two very similarly named places back-to-back. After our three years in Port Alice, which you can read about here, we moved about five hours south on Vancouver Island to a slightly bigger town called Port Alberni. Port Alberni is also on the west coast of the island and the town is right on the ocean as well. Not many houses are on the ocean, so we didn’t have a fabulous beach backyard like in Port Alice, but it was still one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived.
Port Alberni is a mill town of 20,000 people. It had enough amenities to keep us from going crazy but it had a small town feel, the whole everyone-knows-everyone idea. I moved to Port Alberni when I was in grade 11, so before I knew it, I was graduating from Alberni District Secondary School! I made so many great friends in Port Alberni and we definitely played tourist and explored the amazing places around it. This was my mom’s favourite house EVER and we had the most incredible neighbourhood. We lived on a cul-de-sac with a really tight knit group of friends and it was so fun to have people to hang out with right outside your front door.
I had some great experiences living in Port Alberni and I will never forget the memories in that town. I decided for my 16th birthday I would test my love of adrenaline and go bungee jumping! No one else in my family would join me but they were more than willing to film my possible death my experience! I jumped at WildPlay in Nanaimo and I would highly recommend them. I didn’t dunk my head in the water because for the first time I thought jumping off of a bridge was enough without the water-dunking.
I loved my 16th birthday so much that I decided to do something that scared me for the 17th birthday as well. Shooting a handgun? Why not! My dad taught my brother and I how to shoot a gun and it was SO fun. I constantly ask my dad to take me shooting but something about the legality of firing an RCMP officer’s handgun and such. Blah blah blah.
The tradition continued and for my 18th birthday I was finally old enough to jump out of an airplane. I went skydiving in Victoria for my birthday and once again, no one would join me and my family preferred to stay “safely on the ground” while I plummeted from the sky. If you have the chance to go skydiving… DO IT. It was one of the craziest experiences of my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
We had snow around us in the mountains and sand on the beaches. Kind of the best of both worlds. I learned how to snowshoe and surf in the same year. I was horrible at surfing at first but I definitely got better with time and I actually managed to get out to Tofino to surf a few times with friends and stand up on the board each time! I loved having friends who surfed because they could show me the tips and tricks and we had a blast out there! I also did some hiking in and around Port Alberni. You can pretty much climb any of the mountains around the town and have incredible views and lush forest all around you.
Just outside of Port Alberni is an old growth forest called Cathedral Grove. It is a nationally protected area due to its really old trees. They are HUGE and so many residents of Port Alberni drive through the grove hundreds of times a year and never stop to appreciate it. It is a major tourist stop so there are cars all over the highway in the summer (actually, most of the year), but for good reason, it is pretty cool.
As I mentioned, I graduated from high school in Port Alberni, so it will probably always hold a special place in my heart. My graduating class had about 300 people in it and we were such a great group. My neighbour/friend and I went to grad together and he is such a sweetheart, we had tons of fun! To heck with ball gowns and wannabe wedding dresses… I went with the cutest pink short dress! My grandma and aunt flew out from Manitoba to attend my grad which I was so grateful for. The OCD in me liked that I graduated in 2010 😉 Three years later, from the same school, my brother graduated!
I think one of the best things about Port Alberni was the scenery. It rained about 347 days a year (exaggerated, but pretty dang close) and sometimes we had a grey sky for weeks on end which is super depressing but with lots of rain comes lots of green. Port Alberni is surrounded by rainforest and it is green 365 days a year which makes for some gorgeous landscapes. The lakes, the ocean, the rivers, the mountains… it may have been voted the worst city to live in in Canada but for anyone who has been there and really seen it… it is far from the worst.
Tofino, where I learned to surf, may not be exactly in Port Alberni, but I can safely say it is one of my top 3 favourite places to be. I could spend hours surfing in the ocean or walking along the beaches. The towns of Tofino and Ucluelet are adorable and full of super relaxed and laid back people. Visit it, now!
I can’t say enough about how great my neighbourhood was. My mom still tears up when she thinks about leaving all of her friends behind that were literally 20 steps away from her front door. I graduated with some amazing people who are doing incredible things in the world now and I will forever remember Port Alberni as a place full of wonder and exploration. The experiences of surfing, hiking, camping on the beach, snowshoeing, bungee jumping, skydiving, and firing guns were awesome! After one year of living at home and doing my first year of University at our local college, I moved to Victoria to continue my degree there! That is next week on WILW!
2002 – 2004 Gold River
1996 – 2002 Kimberley
1993 – 1996 McBride
1993 Prince George
What is something you did just because it scared you? Bungee jump, fire a gun, skydive, and now I really want to get a tattoo just because it scares me 🙂