Happy 100th birthday, Port Alberni! The city’s official incorporation date was Monday, March 12, 1912, making it the fifth city on Vancouver Island to obtain incorporation.
The official signing didn’t happen right in the city, but spontaneous celebration did. National flags appeared throughout town, and a public meeting was held in Watson’s Hall, in the basement of the Port Alberni Hotel.
While photographer Leonard Frank immortalized the first council on black and white film, Mary Collinge captured her memories with paint and sketches.
Collinge and her husband Tom came to Port Alberni in 1911 from Paisley, Scotland. Mary loved the outdoors and recorded the Valley’s flora and fauna in watercolours and drawings. She also wrote of everyday life in the Alberni Valley in her journal and through correspondence with family in Scotland.
One of Collinge’s paintings, ‘Incorporation Day, 1912’, hangs in the Alberni Valley Museum as a reminder to the city’s centennial. The painting depicts painter and decorator E.M. Scoffin’s banner proclaiming “Welcome to our City”, which was hung on one wall of Watson’s Hall during the celebrations.
Collinge’s artwork is also evident in the city’s first official seal. She submitted two different designs to the inaugural council for consideration. Jan Peterson, in The Albernis: 1860-1922 writes that council finally decided on a combination of both designs, and paid Collinge $15 for her contribution.
The city’s new motto was “Perseverance and Prosperity”, which is featured on the seal.
The seal cost $18, was made in Seattle and delivered to Victoria by special messenger.
Collinge’s thoughts on life a century ago are collected in a book entitled Lady of Paisley, available at the museum.