Port Alberni and McLean Mill National Historic Site

We began Day 14, May 9th, at the Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park campground, where we’d spent the night. A tour of McLean Mill National Historic Site was the main event of the day, which ended at Pacific Rim National Park.

Rathtrevor Beach is one of the largest government campgrounds in BC, with 175 vehicle-accessible and 25 walk-in camping sites. This is the one-way ring road around the campground. There were perhaps 40 camp sites occupied the night we were there.

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park campground, BC
A typical campsite at Rathtrevor. The nightly fee is $35.

Camp site at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, BC
The outhouses are beautiful – they and the concrete paths leading up to them apear to be brand new.

Outhouse at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, BC
Dogs were clearly not allowed on the beach at the day-use park of this park, but this sign seemed to indicate that they were okay on the beach along the campground. I’m curious about the reason for no dogs that time of year.

No Dogs sign at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, BC
It’s not a particularly nice beach in any case. I don’t really understand what makes this park so popular.

Kayaks on the beach at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, BC

Beach at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, BC
The multi-use path along the forest edge is very nice.

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, BC

We left Rathtrevor Beach at about 10:15, which seems to be a common get-on-the-road time for us. About 45 minutes later, we stopped at a large boat launch parking lot in Port Alberni, unhooked the Tracker, and went into town.

Our Garmin said that there was a pet store near the spot where I shot this photo, but when I asked 3 people with dogs about it, they said that it closed years ago, but pointed me to its replacement.

Port Alberni, BC
Our next stop was the McLean Mill National Historic Site, located about 15 km from the marina where we parked the RV.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
We had doped to start with lunch, but the cafe was closed. Actually the entire site was closed, but “self-guided tours” were welcomed. The Web site says that it was supposed to open May 1st.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
McLean Mill was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989, and opened to the public in July 2000. “McLean Mill. A legacy of the early British Columbia forest industry, this steam-powered sawmill is typical of many operations that flourished in the province from the 1880s to the 1940s. Although small in scale, it contains many elements of larger coastal mills including the log haul and double circular saws. Completed in 1927 by the R. B. McLean Lumber Company, a family business, the mill is enriched by associated resources that tell the story of logging, transportation and labour. Together, they commemorate an industry that has dominated economic and social life in British Columbia.”

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
The site is wonderfully intact from the early days. This was worker housing.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
he baclsmth shop.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
This is the view that I like the best, now, and in the mill’s heyday.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
“In the steam-logging era, steam-powered winches were anchored onto a sled made from two logs which were sniped on the ends to facilitate their movement from place to place over rough ground. This sled-winches-steam engine combo was called a ‘donkey’ and steam donkeys were the workhorses of the old-time logging camps.”

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
The garage or truck shed was built in about 1944-45. It was in poor condition but a basic restoration has been done on it.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
There are also some vehicles that were abandoned in the forest.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
Even some of the cable anchoring points are pretty interesting and photogenic, with railroad spikes used to hold the cables in place.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
A look at the main sawing sorting floor, which looks very much like the mill that I worked at in about 1970, Delta Cedar.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
This steam locomotive was built by the Westminster Iron Works of New Westminster.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
Despite the cover, this caboose is in rough shape.

McLean Mill National Historic Site, Port Alberni
After spending an enjoyable hour at the site, we went back into Port Alberni and had lunch at a restaurant that had been recommended by the locals who told me about the pet store. It was only a block from the RV, and at 2:30, with a final photo of a boat being pulled out of the water, we were on the road for Pacific Rim National Park.

Port Alberni, BC

On January 9th, a couple of days after reservations opened, Cathy had booked 3 nights at Parks Canada’s Green Point Campground, located exactly halfway between Tofino and Ucluelet. She was able to get a view site with electricity for a total of $107.90. After looking over the campground once were got set up, the 3 best campsites are numbers 76, 86, and 90 – we got #76.

By 5 pm we were on the beach, and with nobody around, we let Bella and Tucker play free for a few minutes.

Pacific Rim National Park
A broad sandy beach with some great rocks for crashing-surf creation – Green Point has the perfect combination.

Pacific Rim National Park
There were lots of birds as well.

Pacific Rim National Park
A portrait with Tucker before heading back to the rig for diinner.

Pacific Rim National Park
It must take a great deal of work to keep the trail to/from the beach open in this lush rainforest vegetation.

Pacific Rim National Park


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