Great Central Lake, located northwest of the City of Port Alberni, is 35 kilometres long, the second deepest on Vancouver Island, and deeply connected to the post-colonial beginnings of the Alberni Valley region. It was once the site of a sawmill that employed hundreds of men, until it closed in 1953.
The lake remains rural, and the steep terrain surrounding it means it is largely undeveloped, save for a number of float homes.
It was once the site of a large sawmill, employing hundreds of men. Port Alberni pioneer Joe Drinkwater built a floating lodge called The Ark at one end of the lake, and a version of The Ark remains today.
Great Central Lake is also the entrance, if you will, to Della Falls, which Natural Resources Canada states is the steepest waterfall in Canada at 440 metres.
(There is some debate as to whether Kiwi Falls, in Schoen Lake Provincial Park, northeastern Vancouver Island, is the steepest—it is unconfirmed at 475 metres.)
The trailhead to Della Falls is only accessible by boat, and anyone intending to hike the trail in modern times needs to book a water taxi. Back in the 1950s, a group of Boy Scouts took a B.C. Forest Service barge to the end of Great Central Lake for a late-summer hike to the falls, on Sept. 1, 1951.