Long-term residents of Port Alice have seen a number of mudslides over the years

Port Alice has a history of landslides

Due to its steep slopes and heavy rainfall, the area around Port Alice has been subjected to a number of mud and rock slides.

Port Alice sits on the banks of Neroutsos Inlet in Quatsino Sound. The Inlet was officially named by the Government of B.C. in 1927, after the Captain of the Canadian Pacific Railway Coastal Service, Cyril Demetrious Neroutsos.

Much earlier than that, pre-1750, the Hoyalas called the area home, and in the late 1800s the Koskimo also lived in this area. It falls within the claimed traditional territory of the Quatsino First Nation.

Due to its steep slopes and heavy rainfall, the area around Port Alice has been subjected to a number of mud and rock slides.

In 1927 the original Port Alice townsite was struck by a slide that resulted in one fatality. A man with the last name Clark was killed when his bachelor shack was swept away in a slide. Muddy debris tore down the hill, narrowly missing the local hospital. The town had experienced several days of heavy rainfall prior to the slide, and it was suspected that a dam in a creek upstream of the town had burst.

In 1935 two additional slides careened down the hill, one ripping through the golf course, another coming dangerously close to the community store. Local residents pitched in to help sandbag and create berms to divert the flow of water and mud.

The town was relocated in 1965, further away from the mill, in part due to the risk of slides near the mill site.

Two devastating slides, however, took place in the 1970s at the new townsite.

On December 15, 1973, the community suffered from a storm that lashed the coast with high winds and heavy rains. A mudslide occurred at the new townsite, knocking out utility poles, washing away a bridge and affecting 15 houses. Ten families were unable to return to their homes.

Miraculously, no one was injured, but the community was cut off from the rest of the North Island in its moment of need. There was so much debris in the water that float planes could not land, and the Marble River bridge was washed out. Although it was dangerous for boats to travel, water taxis from Coal Harbour did manage to safely get to the community and were able to ferry out a number of families who were billeted in Port Hardy.

On November 12, 1975, the town was again hit with a mudslide that forced the evacuation of many residents.

After these events a number of studies were undertaken to look at slope stability above the town, and a diking system was implemented to divert future slides.

Tragedy struck again, however, on November 10, 1987. A slide occurred on the road between the town and the mill. A number of local residents were on-site assisting with the clean-up, including Port Alice Alderman Ian Ford, when a second slide hit. Ford was standing in the path of the second slide and did not survive.

September 25, 2010 the highway to Port Alice was again washed out as a part of a weather event that saw much flooding and many slides occur around the North Island.

Brenda McCorquodale is a Port Hardy resident and North Island history enthusiast. If you have any stories or local lore you’d like to share, email her at storeysbeach@gmail.com. A collection of her past articles is available on her blog at undiscoveredcoast.blogspot.ca/.

 

Just Posted

Port Hardy Mayor Dennis Dugas votes in favour of eliminating overtime pay for confidential secretary

“I think when staff makes a recommendation I have to support staff’s recommendation.”

PHOTOS: Port McNeill residents remember the fallen

A huge crowd of Port McNeill residents came out on Nov. 11… Continue reading

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Port Alice resident a descendant of two Aboriginal war heroes

Charlie and Henry Byce are Canada’s most decorated father and son in history.

Port Hardy council hesitant to formalize question period in agendas, refers it to committee

In first act as new council, representatives were uncertain about formalizing question periods.

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Most Read