Published in North Island Compass Issue 5 July/August, Page 22
Port Alice: A Hidden Gem
A paradise for photographers, fishermen and nature lovers, the Village of Port Alice on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island is set on a mountainside, affording most residents an ocean view. As well, the Port Alice Sea Walk traces three km of coastline providing sightings of eagles, bears, seals, otters, orca and humpback whales.
A mill town since the early 1900s, the community was relocated five km south, out of the shadow of the mill, in 1965. Purpose-built a half century ago, Port Alice showcases thoughtful, mid-century West Coast architecture in a dramatic natural setting.
Although the mill is currently out of service, Port Alice provides peaceful living for the self-sufficient: artists, writers, service providers, home business owners, eco-tourism start-ups, camp families, and retirees.
Retired teacher Pauline Steele calls it Vancouver Island’s Hidden Gem for its scenery, liveability, and affordability. An avid kayaker and community advocate, Steele created her website www.vancouverislandhiddengem.com using resident testimonials to promote Port Alice to retirees. She also initiated the Alice in Action Society – a citizen group dedicated to attracting new residents and enhancing the quality of life in Port Alice. Plus she co-coordinates the community market on Saturdays.
Residents and visitors enjoy the calm waters of the inlet for excellent kayaking, sailboarding, scuba diving, and fishing. Neroutsos Inlet is abundant with halibut, salmon, ling cod, tuna, crabs and prawns. It’s a gateway to Quatsino Sound and crowd-free West Coast beaches. Closer to home are Link River Campground on Alice Lake and Marble River Campground and trails. The Alice Lake Loop accesses geological wonders like Devil’s Bath and the Eternal Fountain, part of the vast stretches of limestone of this prime caving country.
After searching the North Island for a new home, stained glass artist Susan Mohler chose Port Alice for its wilderness access and its friendly village charm. She opened her Seaside Studio and Gallery this year in her waterfront home. Then to encourage other artists and entrepreneurs, she held a business development workshop, and started the Port Alice Arts Association. She also created www.portalicelife.ca, celebrating life in Port Alice in photos and stories.
Recent visitors to Rumble Beach Marina raved about Port Alice hospitality in a blog. When they arrived by sailboat looking for a shower, they called Inlet Haven B&B. The rooms were occupied, but owners Bonnie and Jim Overland generously invited the tourists to use their personal shower. They had already been charmed when a woman pulled over to offer them a ride up the hill. Who was their chauffeur? Port Alice Mayor Jan Allen.
Photos by Darrell McIntosh, North Island Images