McLean Mill Historic Park | Attraction Guides | History Hit

McLean Mill Historic Park

Vancouver, Canada

Luke Tomes

05 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Ymblanter / CC

About McLean Mill Historic Park

McLean Mill Historic Park is a former sawmill and logging operation located in the Alberni Valley of Vancouver Island.

McLean Mill Historic Park history

A legacy of the early British Columbia forest industry, this steam-powered sawmill is typical of many operations that flourished in the province from the 1880s to the 1940s. Although small in scale, it contains many elements of larger coastal mills including the log haul and double circular saws.

The mill is enriched by associated resources that tell the story of logging, transportation and labour. Together, they commemorate an industry that has dominated economic and social life in British Columbia.

Established in 1925 by Robert Bartlett McLean, his wife Cora and their three sons, it continued as a family-run operation until 1965. Built resources at the site were constructed of local materials by the McLean family and their workers.

The deliberate creation of zones of activity is still plainly visible. The site includes a steam-powered sawmill and original machinery representative of the range of activities undertaken in the forest industry. Built resources and machinery span the 40 years of mill operation, demonstrating the typical components of a British Columbia sawmill and logging operation and their evolution over that period. The site also includes transportation facilities for a steam-powered locomotive.

McLean Mill was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1989 to commemorate: its collection of extant resources related to logging, sawmilling, transportation and labour; and, its close association to significant aspects of the forest industry.

McLean Mill Historic Park today

McLean Mill is the perfect place for a stroll any time of year. Whether it’s to take in the history or to go for scenic walk with your family or fury baby, you won’t be disappointed. The surroundings are breathtaking.

The site is open for self-guided tours at all times, maps are available at the Mill Store (Admin Building) and some of the heritage houses are set up so that you can have a peek at how life used to be around the McLean Mill. Entry is free.

Getting to McLean Mill Historic Park

The address of McLean Mill Historic Park is 5633 Smith Rd, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 8Z1. The national heritage site is located in the centre of Vancouver Island, roughly a 1-hour drive outside of Nanaimo, which can be reached from the city of Vancouver via BC Ferry.

From Nanaimo, drive down the BC-19 northbound and the BC-4 West to Alberni-Clayoquot B. When you have arrived at Alberni, take a right at Cherry Creek Road until you reach the town of Cherry Creek. Take a left down Cowley Road and proceed to take the third right onto Cypress Boulevard. Take the last left onto Batty Road and follow direction to McLean Mill Historic Park.

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