Alert Bay

Feature Type:Village (1) - A populated place with legally defined boundaries, incorporated as a village municipality under the provincial Municipal Act.
Status:
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: S side of Cormorant Island, just E off Port McNeill (municipality), Rupert Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 50°35'02''N, 126°55'40''W at the approximate location of the Municipal Hall.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 92L/10

Origin Notes and History:

Incorporated as a Village Municipality 14 January 1946.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Named in association with the water feature, Alert Bay, in turn named in 1860 by Captain Richards, HMS Plumper, after HM Alert, a screw corvette with 17 guns, which was the first steam vessel to call at Alert Bay. The Alert was built at Pembroke in 1856, and was on this station 1858-1861 under the command of Commander W.A.R. Pearse; the Alert returned to this station 1865-1869 under Commander Arthur John Innes, and in 1867 her officers were engaged in a resurvey of Alert Bay. See also the municipality's own website.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

The original settlers were Messrs. Spencer and Huron, who originally located near the mouth of the Nimpkish River and established a fishing business, but good landings were hard to find and in 1870 they leased Cormorant Island and established a saltery there. They persuaded the Nimpkish River Indians to move over and establish a village near their plant. In 1878 they further persuaded Rev. Alfred James Hall, who had established a mission at Fort Rupert the previous year, to move to Alert Bay. Alert Bay Post Office was opened 1 October 1885. A school was built and in 1886-7 sufficient funds were secured to build a sawmill. The surrounding region gradually began to open up following the completion of construction of the CPR; there was now a market for lumber and fish, and regular communication with Vancouver after 1889 when the Union Steam Ship Company added Alert Bay to its itinerary. In 1902 B.C. Packers Association was formed and the original plant at Alert Bay was bought out. In 1908 the sawmill was leased from the Indians and functioned until 1928 when it was dismantled.

Source: Provincial Archives of BC "Place Names File" compiled 1945-1950 by A.G. Harvey from various sources, with subsequent additions

Kwak'wala name for the village is 'Yalis

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office