The ‘City of Alberni’ schooner – Port Alberni Valley News


The Alberni Valley Museum’s online archive is replete with historical photos of the various types of ships and vessels that have plied the waters of Alberni Inlet since settlers brought their ships up from the west coast of Vancouver Island.

In this photo, longshoremen load large wooden slats onto the deck of the City of Alberni schooner, circa 1939.

The City of Alberni, according to the Vancouver Maritime Museum, “was a [1452 metric tonnes], five-masted schooner built by the George F. Matthews Shipyard in Hoquiam, Washington, in 1920. The schooner was 241 feet (73 meters) in length with a mast height of 170 feet (52 m).

The City of Alberni was originally called Vigilant by EK Wood Lumber Co., the first of three owners. The Vancouver Maritime Museum renamed the ship to City of Alberni in 1940 after its sale to the Canadian Transport Company (the third and final owner).

The ship’s last voyage was in November 1942, an unsuccessful attempt to transport timber to South Africa. The ship was unable to circumvent Cape Horn and was ultimately condemned.

Some interesting facts:

• The City of Alberni was the last foreign offshore commercial sailing vessel to sail under the Canadian flag.

• In 1977, the federal government honored five-masted schooners as the City of Alberni with a 12-cent commemorative stamp featuring Captain Joseph-Elzéar Bernier with a sailboat in the background.

There are 24,000 photos in the online archive, found at

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