The Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society is a group of highly dedicated and extremely talented volunteers. They put their passion for our local maritime history into creating amazing exhibits, and captivating events. Without this team, this organization wouldn't survive.  

Meet the Team

Ken Watson
Chairman of the Board

     Ken grew up in the City of Nelson and as a boy developed a keen interest in history and the heritage of British Columbia through exploring the nearby ghost towns, and abandoned mines and mills in the West Kootenays.  Digging for antique bottles and fishing were favourite activities for Ken and his friends.


    Moving to the coast in his later teens, Ken developed a love of the ocean including fishing, sailing and particularly scuba diving.  Wreck diving was a favourite.


     Ken moved to the Alberni Valley in 1986 to work for the City and worked there for thirty years, recently retiring.  Given his interest in history and heritage, one of the most enjoyable aspects of Ken’s time at the City involved working with the Alberni Valley Museum staff and members of the Industrial Heritage Society supporting the development and operation of the McLean Mill, Alberni Pacific Railway and other heritage attractions.


      Raising of "the Swan” from the bottom of Sproat Lake was a project Ken enjoyed “diving into” and more recently he also enjoyed using his carpentry skills helping build the Swan shelter at the Maritime Heritage Gallery.


     Involvement in community volunteer groups has been part of Ken’s life since moving to Port Alberni including roles in the Gyro Club, Portal Players Dramatic Society, Community Arts Council, Barclay Sounders Underwater Society, West Coast Aquatic Society and Rotary Club.  Given this, and Ken’s heritage interests, taking on a Director’s position at the Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society was a great fit that Ken is really enjoying.

David Cox
Vice-Chair/ Exhibits Director

     David was born in Beckenham, Kent, England at the end of WW2. He spent 3 years in London with his mother and father, who was captain of a minesweeper in the Royal Navy. After the War, his father went back to sea in the merchant service and emigrated to Canada with the family in 1957.

     David attended Oak Bay High School and the University of Victoria, graduating with a BA in 1969. He met his future wife Edna  while attending UVIC. As a student, every summer David went to sea with the Canadian Hydrographic Service, making charts of the ocean in the Arctic and the West Coast of Canada.

     As a teacher of high-school in the Okanagan, every summer David took the family  down to the West Coast where they chartered sailing yachts that took them to the Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast and Desolation Sound.

     The family purchased a San Juan 21 sailboat  in the Okanagan and cruised and raced it on Lake Okanagan.

After retirement in 2005 , David and Edna moved to Port Alberni. They  bought a C&C 30 yacht “SAPPHIRE”. They have been cruising  for twelve years now on Georgia Strait.

     Upon arriving in Port Alberni, David was asked by then PAMHS president, Ken Hutcheson to join the board. David has served PAMHS for 12 years now.

Edna Cox

     I was born in Victoria,  grew up in Port Alberni, attended University of Victoria, where  David and I met.  We married in 1969, lived in the Okanagan 1970-2005, and  retired back to Port Alberni in summer 2005 to be near family and to sail the ocean.

    I had worked in the office at Hiram Walker Distillery and as a secondary school library assistant in Winfield before staying  home for several years to care for our two young sons, and then became a early childhood teacher at the Kelowna  Waldorf School.

     David and I began our watery adventures with a sabot in1971, continued with a 16" Signet, then with "Sarabande", our 21" foot San Juan 21 for 30 years, racing and cruising on Okanagan.


     Since 2005, we enjoy our time aboard "Sapphire', our 1975 C & C 30. Always happy to be on the water! Then in 2014 I had joined the PAMHS Board.

jean pic.jpg
Jean McIntosh

Jean McIntosh, (BA, MA Anthropology UBC), moved to the Alberni Valley  for a one-year position as Assistant Curator of the Alberni Valley Museum.  That led to an over 30 year  career as Curator and Director for the Museum. In that role she was instrumental in the development, operation and promotion of the Alberni Heritage Network, which brought together the Museum, the Maritime Discovery Centre, the McLean Mill National Historic Site and the Alberni Pacific Steam Railway.


Jean has worked closely with the Maritime Heritage Society since its inception and has long admired the excellent work carried out by small numbers of volunteers with this Society. 


Now retired, Jean is pleased to have been asked to join the Board of PAMHS and enjoys working with this enthusiastic and knowledgeable group.

Don Jones

     I’m a British Columbian and have spent my entire life in BC mostly near the ocean. Born in Vancouver, I spent my first fifteen years in the area adjacent to the University of British Columbia and my latter teenage years in West Vancouver. After high school graduation in 1965, I worked the summer as a “buggy boy” at the Park Royal Woodwards Food Floor and that fall headed to UBC with the intention of becoming a forester. After two summers in the woods, I realized forestry was not the best career choice. In 1967 I switched to the Commerce Faculty at UBC and in 1971 graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce, Finance option. To celebrate eighteen straight years of school I took a charter flight from Vancouver to London and traveled around Western and Central Europe and Turkey for one year, staying in youth hostels and meeting people, mostly my age, from around the world.


     Since 1982 I’ve been very active in the Rotary Club of Port Alberni as a Director, then Secretary, then President and again a Director and in the Port Alberni Salmon Festival Society, first as Treasurer for ten years and then a continuing member. Since retirement, I try to walk daily for at least an hour at the Bob Dailey track facility, am an Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce yellow-shirted Ambassador and have recently volunteered as Treasurer for both the Port Alberni Association for Community Living and the Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society.


     During my childhood and teenage years, my Dad was a shipping economist and ship charterer for MacMillan Bloedel and he owned two boats. The first was a small, slow-moving cruiser and next was a faster moving day boat. Both allowed me to cruise among the islands in Howe Sound. As a kid, I visited freighters which he chartered and spent many weekends at the local yacht club looking at all the power and sailboats. Since the sea is in my blood, it seemed natural to volunteer for PAMHS and learn and absorb the maritime history of the Alberni Inlet, Barkley Sound, and Vancouver Island’s West Coast.

Ken McKinnon

     Ken was born in Port Alberni and graduated from high school here in 1961.


     He moved to Quebec after high school for education, fame and fortune.


     He trained as a telecom technician in the RCAF and served in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. Ken left the RCAF in 1965 and worked in Ottawa until 1972. He then moved with his wife, Rita, to Vancouver before moving back to Port Alberni in 1974 where they have raised their family.


     Always interested in boating, Ken joined the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron in 1978. He has been involved in teaching and administration ever since.


     Ken Hutcheson asked him to join the Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society while they were building the lighthouse in 1999.  He has been an active member of the society since then.

Paul Amos

     I have now been in BC for around 35 years, emigrating from England, and moving here to Port in 2005 when my wife Betty and I left Steveston for calmer waters.

As the picture shows, boats have been an integral part of my life since early days! In fact Betty and I were married on a converted torpedo boat.

     I did seriously consider joining the Royal Navy after school, but an Old Salt down in Portsmouth advised against that, the navy was being drastically reduced postwar, and somehow the alternative, a career in the merchant navy lost out to the excitement of London in the Swinging Sixties.


     I was a Navy Cadet for a number of years however, so I can claim to having some Nautical training [and if falling into the London Docks and surviving counts as training, I was well trained]  We had a converted motor fishing boat, an MFV, a Coastal Defence vessel left over from the war and officers late of the RNVR, who were adept at both running aground and shouting. Not sure which was more frightening.


     Dave and Edna introduced me to the Museum some time back [Thank you, guys! ] since then I have enjoyed both the company of our members and appreciating the chance to do something useful for Port Alberni.

     I hope being a permanent member of the Museum will open more opportunities and friendships in the times to come.

Bob Vandermolen

     Born in the Netherlands, Bob’s family immigrated to Nanaimo B.C. in 1951. In 1953, his family moved to Port Alberni, where Bob has spent most of his life since. After 47 years in the forest industry – beginning at M&B Alberni Plywood and ending at Catalyst Paper Corp. – Bob wanted to give back to his community. 

     Growing up and working in the valley, Bob developed an attraction to the water: from hanging around the docks, creeks, and rivers as a young child to spending his teen years living at Sproat Lake where there were countless hours spent fishing in the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound with friends and family.

     Bob's previous volunteer experience has been with Youth Soccer and the PAC at ADSS. Currently, Bob is continuing to volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society. He has a keen interest in the history of the Alberni Valley and after being approached by PAHMS Chairman, Kenn Whiteman – with the support of his wife, Karen – Bob looks forward to being a part of the Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society. 

Kenn Whiteman

     As President of the Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society Kenn Whiteman comes with a variety of skill sets gleaned from his various roles over the past 50 years as an entrepreneur, instructor, facilitator, kayak distributor, tour guide, business planner, career councilor, private contractor for Youth Service Canada projects and Chair of numerous non-profit organizations including the Port Alberni Tall Ships Society.


     His interest in history comes from the fact that one of his forefathers by the name of David Thompson was a fur trader, an explorer, a surveyor, a mapmaker and an entrepreneur.


     Kenn holds the belief that if you don't care who gets the credit anything is possible. Only by working on the front lines can you ensure that the "rubber meets the road." Only by having a supportive wife in Linda do things become reality.

Emily Jones
Facility Coordinator

Emily is originally from Ontario and recently relocated to Port Alberni to pursue her love for heritage and culture. Her dad sparked her interest sailing one summer as a child in Northern Ontario and enrolled her in sailing camp for many years afterward. 


Having completed her BA in archaeology and heritage studies from Wilfred Laurier University in 2018, she has been working and exploring ever since. As part of her undergrad, Emily partook in a field school located in Jordan; this opportunity sparked a passion for both travel and historic culture which she is still trying to quell. She has since traveled to Mexico, SE Asia, Europe and Belize for both archaeology and leisure.  

Having half of her extended family in British Columbia has always drawn her to the West Coast. The opportunity to combine her love for history and explore the west coast makes for an exciting new chapter for Emily as Facilities Coordinator. 

For $10.00 a year, you are added to our mailing list and have free entrance to our Maritime Heritage Nights.


Money from memberships goes towards enhancing our exhibitions and bringing in new ones. 

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