A LOOK BACK: Kitsuksis Creek in Port Alberni

Take a peek into Alberni Valley history with Alberni Valley Museum

Kitsuksis Creek on Port Alberni’s waterfront looks different in 2020 than it does in this photo from 1900, courtesy of photographer Leonard Frank. The Alberni Hotel is located to the left of the photo: in the early 1900s it backed onto the Hotel Alberni, which is where the Alberni Valley News is presently located on Margaret Street. Kitsuksis means “stream with log across” in Nuu-chah-nulth. See more at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PN00039 Alberni Valley Museum)

Famed Port Alberni photographer Leonard Frank captured this view of Kitsuksis Creek at the confluence with the Somass River, and the Alberni Hotel in the distance around 1900.

One of Port Alberni’s early colonial pioneers, Michael Sareault, built the Alberni Hotel as well as a small water-powered sawmill on Kitsuksis Creek at the turn of the 20th century. Jan Peterson writes about Sareault and his family in The Albernis: 1860–1922.

“Kitsuksis” means “stream with log across” in Nuu-chah-nulth language, according to Place Names of the Alberni Valley. The creek has been a fixture on Port Alberni’s waterfront for centuries, although modern commerce such as the hotel is more recent. Clutesi Haven Marina sits on the confluence, and Highway 4 crosses over the creek at the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 293 building.

There is now a pathway around Kitsuksis Creek called the Kitsuksis Dyke, which is popular with walkers and bicyclists alike. Blair Park is located along the east side of the dyke, a trail at the far end takes one underneath Kitsuksis Trestle along the Alberni Pacific Railway, and there is an off-leash dog park on the west side of the dyke walkway.

This photo is one of nearly 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum’s collection. See more at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com/ Many of the history books cited in the Look Back series are available for purchase at the AV Museum. Call 250-720-2863 for more information.

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