Refurbished Landmark At Harbour Quay To Establish New Legacy And Opportunities For Region
PORT ALBERNI – As part of Port Alberni’s economic diversification and Indigenous reconciliation efforts, the City will repurpose a 40-year old clock tower to highlight Indigenous culture and history, with funding support from the Island Coastal Economic Trust’s DIVERSIFY Capital Program.
The Story Tower project will recount the narrative of the former site of the Tseshaht Winter Village and their Wolf Ritual Beach. On the south side of Port Alberni, at Harbour Quay, the City has been working with the First Nation towards the recognition of this former location. Adding a signature and highly visible landmark to learn about the culture, history and showcase the artwork of the Tseshaht First Nation will also serve to drive new tourism markets and Indigenous tourism markets to the area.
“This Tower will serve as an important anchor, reminding us of the culture and history of the area’s first inhabitants,” says ICET Board Chair Aaron Stone. “Adding this cultural tourism element strengthens the development of Indigenous tourism at Harbour Quay. It also helps enhance the viability and vitality of uptown businesses, which aligns with our priority of supporting year-round tourism infrastructure in the region.”
Project works include the replacement of the two large clocks on an existing tower with two larger pieces of Tseshaht art depicting the wolf; structural reinforcement to support the new artwork; installation of story boards at each of the three platforms of the Clock Tower; and lighting and signage.
“The Story Tower will have broad appeal to both visitors and residents, while complementing other Indigenous cultural attractions,” says Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions. “Visitors who want a deeper understanding of the Indigenous history in the Alberni Valley will be drawn to the landmark, as will residents seeking a local cultural outing.”
The Story Tower will add to other Indigenous tourism sites in the area, such as the Hupacasath Welcome Figures and the Nuu-chah-nulth Whaling sculpture that greet visitors to Victoria Quay on the north side of Port Alberni. Beyond the tower, the Tseshaht are developing an interpretive centre, which will also feature the sale of traditional arts and craft items. Other tourism developments, such as cultural canoe tours, are also in the works.
“For Tseshaht, we know this space area as Tlukwatkwuu7is, our traditional winter village that we lost under duress without a treaty for settler occupation. Today, Tlukwatkwuu7is remains a sacred part of our Aboriginal Title territories,” says Wahmeesh (Ken Watts), Tseshaht First Nation Elected Chief Councillor. “It is our hope that the new wolf sculptures and site interpretation will not only benefit residents of the Alberni valley, but tourists and also empower Tseshaht citizens.”
As part of a broader initiative valued at over $500,000, ICET will be contributing $76,800 to the Story Tower, under its Economic Infrastructure and Innovation Program (EIIP). The project is currently underway.