Powell River – So much to offer!
Where endless green mountains meet sheltered Pacific Ocean waters, Powell River provides a stimulating blend of outdoor adventure and cultural amenities.
Originally founded as a resource extraction centre – once home to the world’s largest pulp and paper mill – Powell River now offers water lovers countless opportunities for kayaking and canoeing, fishing, and scuba diving. Don’t miss Marine Avenue’s art galleries and dining, plus the historic, planned Townsite, designated a National Historic District in 1995.
The city (pop. 12,957) is located on the upper Sunshine Coast, about 145km/90mi northwest of Vancouver. It’s accessible by ferry from Vancouver Island, or from Earl’s Cove while driving up from Gibsons or Sechelt. The black-tailed deer of Texada Island and the white, sandy beaches of Savary Island await via a short ferry ride or water taxi ride.
It’s easy to make a splash in Powell River. Set up a kayak tour out of Lund (a 20-minute drive north from Powell River) and explore Desolation Sound Marine Park, British Columbia’s biggest marine park. Its 60km/37mi of sheltered coastline is laden with picturesque bays, coves, and inlets. First Nations petroglyphs, seals, and porpoises can be spotted.
Another popular kayaking destination is the Copeland Islands, where bald eagles and deer can be sighted while following the archipelago’s narrow passageways. Mitlenatch Island attracts bird-watchers, as it’s home to the Strait of Georgia’s largest population of sea birds.
Canoeists flock to the famous Powell River Forest Canoe Route, encompassing eight pristine lakes on an 80km/50mi circuit with camping and B&B access. Experience some of the world’s best cold-water diving, according to renowned explorer Jacques Cousteau, and see the bronze mermaid statue submerged in Mermaid Cove, or wolf eels and octopi at the wreck of the Malahat sailing ship. Fishing aficionados can catch abundant salmon, rainbow trout, or kokanee locally, and the excellent oystering substantiates Powell River’s nickname, “Coastal By Nature.”
Parks, Hiking, and Biking
Opportunities for swimming, camping, and boating abound at Powell River’s parks. Sample everything from the rocky beaches teeming with tidal pool life at Saltery Bay Provincial Park to the amazingly wheelchair-friendly hiking circuit at Inland Lake Provincial Park.
The area’s biggest hiking attraction is the 180km/111 miles Sunshine Coast Trail, which can be done in segments or as a multi-day trip amid old-growth forest and alpine ridge. The trail is shared with mountain bikers, who also enjoy the 34km/21 miles intensity of Bunster Hills Loop. Other notable hikes include the Duck Lake trail system and the lookout on Valentine Mountain.
It’s no wonder Powell River was named a “Cultural Capital of Canada” in 2004. Each year, the community hosts major arts festivals like International Choral Kathaumixw, which attracts choirs from around the world, and Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific (SOAP), featuring up-and-coming and established classical musicians. Powell River burgeons with visual artists, from downtown’s Artique cooperative gallery to the unique wood creations of Tourigny and Marce. An annual studio tour opens artists’ doors in August.
Famous Powell River Residents
Powell River has spawned a handful of famous people, including Juno Award-winning jazz musician Don Thompson (ex-John Handy Quintet), First Nations TV actor Evan Adams (Da Vinci’s City Hall), and Brad Bombardir, an NHL hockey player who won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2000. Reportedly, the likes of rocker Colin James, singer Terry Jacks, and TV guru Oprah Winfrey have come to Powell River to relax and get away.