10 family-friendly experiences to share at Port Alberni’s McLean Mill Historic Park this summer

History comes alive with fun, organic food and fantastic entertainment

Delve into Vancouver Island’s fascinating history this summer, experiencing the sights, sounds and characters that dominated the logging industry in the last century.

“It’s magic out here. You feel it as soon as you walk on the site,” says Deanna Beaudoin, of McLean Mill Historic Park, a National Historic Site just outside Port Alberni.

If you’ve visited before, be prepared for a whole new experience.

“We had this amazing historical asset out here, but wanted to have more people experience it. With this new line-up of activities, events and entertainment, we know guests will leave with a new appreciation of this vital piece of Island history.”

1. Ride the rails. Hop on one of the historic trains in downtown Port Alberni for a gorgeous, 40-minute ride – including three trestles – to the park. Allow four hours if visiting by train, three hours if driving. Adult train fare is just $35, which includes park admission plus on-site events and activities (except the café and general store). Better yet, children 11 and younger ride free!

2. Hold on to your valuables! Catch special event train rides where actors re-enact thrilling events for riders, including the favourite Beaufort Gang Train Robbery.

3. 10 minutes + $10 = fun. Just a 10-minute drive from Port Alberni, your $10 park admission includes all activities and tours led by talented young actors.

4. Immerse yourself in history – the mid-1950s, to be exact. Wander into Old Town and step back in time. The historic park is curated to 1953 thanks to the Alberni Valley Museum and trained actors roam as historical characters, engaging with visitors, sharing stories and offering impromptu “shows” here and there.

5. Get busy. Take in a variety of games and “art moments,” on-site creative projects for all ages. You can even add your touch to the Faerie Forest!

6. Weekly happenings. Enjoy Wellness Wednesdays, Movies in the Park Thursdays and Family Steam Logging Show Fridays, showcasing the equipment that worked the woods. Saturdays bring special events and on Sundays it’s Music in the Park.

7. Enjoy an in-depth tour inside the old steam mill – a unique opportunity this year while it’s being refurbished. “It’s the most complex simple machinery you’ve ever seen,” Beaudoin says.

8. Visit the Steam Pot Café where Chef Katie buys local and creates a seasonal, ever-changing 100-mile menu, then visit the great hall, welcoming community gatherings, weddings and other special occasions.

9. Mark your calendars for special events, including August’s music and art festival The Shaker, family-friendly through the day, with 19+ events at night. With an extended park schedule to Oct. 1, enjoy exciting events planned through fall!

10. Extend your visit with on-site camping. Choose one of eight rustic camping sites or a group site.

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