BC’s first instant municipality, the Village of Port Alice, celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer with a four-day reunion event from July 31st to Aug. 3rd.
The District of Port Alice (Rumble Beach) was incorporated as B.C.’s first instant municipality on June 11, 1965 when the Provincial Government and Rayonier Canada partnered to relocate the company town. (In 1971 Port Alice was reclassified to a Village because the population did not grow large enough to maintain ‘District’ status.)
The original company town of Port Alice was located at the pulp mill site between 1917 and 1965. In the mid-sixties, Rayonier Canada decided to get out of the housing market forcing the relocation of the town. The town relocated five kilometres North to Rumble Beach. The location was named after Mr. Rumble, who lived in a small cabin at the present day Lion’s Park, approximately where the picnic shelter is located. Remnants of Mr. Rumble’s cabin were visible to the very first residents of the new community. In the 1970’s the provincial government required the mill to install pollution control infrastructure. The buildings at the mill site were torn down or removed from the property to make room for the new infrastructure.
Port Alice – old town, was very isolated and accessible only by sea plane or boat. For those people who lived in the old town, they will likely remember a close-knit, diverse community with lots to do. The community had a bowling alley, movie theatre, community hall, legion, tennis court, small outdoor swimming pool, golf course, baseball field, two churches, restaurant, police station, post office, bank, library, laundry mat, hospital, and a school from kindergarten to Grade 12. Food and other goods were brought in by barge to the local grocery store. Mail was picked up by boat from Coal Harbour and delivered to Port Alice.
Between the mid-sixties to early seventies, travelling to the south island went something like this:
• Arrive in Jeune Landing where a pilot car would lead you through active sections of logging road;
• Drive for two-and-a-half hours to Beaver Cove over a bumpy, winding logging road;
• Have your car lifted onto a small ferry, and spend four hours travelling to Kelsey Bay (Sayward);
• Travel along another logging road to Campbell River where you would be rewarded with asphalt;
• Four hours later you should be nearing the City of Nanaimo.
Port Alice – new town, still remote by many people’s standards, is less isolated thanks to the highway built in 1976 that connects Port Alice to the other north and south island communities by paved road. The trip to Campbell River now takes less than three hours.
The town today has fewer amenities, but still has essential services such as a health clinic, police station, post office, bank, library, elementary school, and recreation options at the community centre, arena and golf course. It has also become a tourist destination for fishing, with a new marina built in 2013.
The Port Alice 50th anniversary celebration offers memorabilia displays, local artists and vendors, children’s events, entertainment, a dance, scavenger hunt, family baseball game and plenty of breakfast, lunch and dinner social opportunities. Register by May 31st.
For more information about the Port Alice 50th Anniversary Reunion, to view the events program, or to register, visit the web site at http://www.portalice50yearreunion.com or contact the reunion committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org