The Powell River region was once home to over 20,000 of the Coast Salish people of the Sliammon clan whose presence can be seen at various archaeological sites throughout the area. Powell River was named in the 1880s for Israel Wood Powell, who was the superintendent of Indian Affairs for British Columbia.
Logging was the major industry in the Powell River area and in 1912 the first pulp and paper mill was built on the waterfront by Brooks, Scanlon and O'Brien Company. By 1930 the company employed over 2,000 people and was the largest newsprint mill in the world.
The development of the highway, which reached Pender Harbour in the 1930s and the northwest end of the Sechelt Peninsula in the 1950s, brought the settlements closer together, and after car ferry service began in 1951, closer to Vancouver. After this date, the population increased rapidly. Powell River Townsite was designated as a National Historic District of Canada in 1995, one of only seven in Canada. A charming community remarkably intact with over 400 original buildings contained within the borders of the 1910 town plan.
Powell River is located 31 km (19 mi) north of the Saltery Bay ferry terminal on the upper Sunshine Coast. From Vancouver, take the Horseshoe Bay Ferry in West Vancouver to Langdale, drive to Earls Cove (80 km/50 mi) and board a second ferry to Saltery Bay.
Saltery Bay Provincial Park is in a magnificent location on the waterfront. Named for the fish saltery that was nearby in the early 1900s, its shores are not only the place to see killer whales, seals, and sea lions, they're also a hot destination for scuba divers. Mermaid Cove is where Canada's first underwater statue, an exquisite three metre (10 feet) tall bronze mermaid, known as the Emerald Princess, sits submerged 20 metres (65 feet) beneath the surface, marking one of the many great scuba-diving spots along the coast. Hiking, swimming and canoeing are all popular activities in this park.
Designated a National Historic District in 1995, the Historic Townsite is one of only a few professionally planned, single-industry towns dating from the early modern period in Canadian town planning that has been caringly preserved and restored by its residents. Walking tours are available to see the landmark buildings including the Patricia Theatre, Dwight Hall, Rodmay Hotel and Catalyst paper mill. Sliammon First Nations art is housed in the Powell River Museum located in town. The museum traces the region's history and development. Artifacts include stone weapons, cooking utensils, and intricately woven baskets, in addition to the many artifacts from the 19th and 20th century.
Powell River has a burgeoning art scene. Just some of these include: First Nations-themed watercolours at Wind Spirit Gallery, stunning wood art at Tourigny and Marce, handmade pottery and ceramics at Cranberry Pottery and Down to Earth Clayworks. And there many others to explore.
Texada Island is the largest of the Gulf Islands. Easily accessible by BC Ferry from Powell River, or sail or motor into one of the local wharfs. Texada is popular for hiking and biking, swimming and diving and is also a birdwatcher's paradise with over 250 species of birds to look out for. If you are a rock hound be sure to look for the Flower Rock and check out the local crafts, grab a bite to eat and see the stunning views.
There are over 100 popular dive sites on the Sunshine Coast. Sechelt Inlet is rated one of the world's top 20 recreational dives by Scuba Diving Magazine. A popular dive site is the 366-foot wreck of the HMCS Chaudiere at the mouth of Salmon Inlet, which was scuttled in 1992 by the Artificial Reef Society of BC. The warmer waters around the Powell River area make for excellent diving conditions. See the underwater 3 m (10 ft) tall bronze mermaid at Mermaid Cove.
There are several golfing locations in the area. Myrtle Point Golf Course is an 18-hole championship course designed by Les Furber. Nootka Dunn is a 9-hole course and Putters Mini Golf is fun for the whole family.
Extreme mountain biking/cycling on the Upper Sunshine Coast is a popular form of recreation, transportation, and sport. The layout of the area offers easy access to any point in the region for both street and off-road bikes. Trails include: Inland Lake Provincial Park, Bunster Hills Loop and Savary Island.
The Powell River region of the Sunshine Coast has an extensive trail system. From short leisurely walks such as the Willingdon Beach Trail to the 180 km (112 mi) Sunshine Coast Trail, you'll find hikes to suit everyone.
Powell River and the Sunshine Coast is the ideal location for your next fishing adventure. The mild climate and protected waters provide anglers year-round fishing in both fresh water lakes and ocean waters. Fly-fishing is popular in the freshwater lakes in the area while saltwater fishing around Coho Point and Blubber Bay yields some of the best salmon fishing.
Tourism Powell River
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia