Appearances can be deceiving, and such is the case for British Columbia’s Powell River, which is not a water body, but a city located on the Sunshine Coast. Located in the southern part of the province of British Columbia, the city is home to about 14,000 people and was established in 1912. The city of Powell River was reincorporated into the Canadian map as a city in 2005.
Despite being a rather small city, Powell River has lots to contribute to Candian tourism. On the other hand, the historical and cultural significance of the place makes it an absolute treat for those who love the mysteries and stories of the days gone by. Powell River also has the largest community of people permanently residing on the Sunshine Coast.
But what makes the city so special? Read on to find out!
12 Impressive Things That Make Powell River Special
1. Establishments to visit
Powell River Farmer’s Market
Just like many other parts of Canada, Powell River has its own version of a farmer’s market. It is highly recommended that you check out the farmer’s market on the weekends as they offer a short train ride as well. It is great for kids, given the playground especially meant for the young ones to jump around.
Live music is conducted as well, but do be sure to check out the bands or artists that are taking the stage before you go. The farmer’s market isn’t just limited to agricultural produce. The stalls display all sorts of stuff, including pottery, bakery and flowers as well.
The rural setting really gives it a homely, welcoming vibe. Add to that the fact that Canadian people are known to be extra friendly, and you have yourself a perfect shopping experience with hassle-free conveyance and entertainment.
Powell River Historical Museum and Archives
A rather small and cosy setting, but informative nonetheless. The Powell River Historical Museum and Archives contains some of the most well-documented pieces of world-class artefacts and history about the Powell River area within its walls. You’ll get to learn a lot about the people of the First Nations, as well as the culture and the artefacts preserved in the museum.
The museum employees always come up with interesting facts to surprise the visitors with while they’re helping the people out, guiding them through the history of the region. It will take you above an hour to truly absorb everything that the museum has to offer. But if you’re someone that loves the stories and the remnants of days gone by, then the trip to this museum is absolutely worth it.
Add to that the fact that there is an ice cream store right next door, and you have yourself a wonderful, informative outing topped off with a dessert and a good walk.
The Patricia Theatre is one of the oldest movie theatres around and has been welcoming guests for over a century, first opening its doors to the general audience in 1913. Do be warned that the museum accepts only cash for all of its bookings. Despite its olden stature, the theatre has been upgraded to a completely digital setting, with the latest features in cinema viewing present at the theatre.
The iconic decor with huge, old school artwork is one of the best things about the iconic theatre. The panel paintings only add to the charm of the theatre, with the popcorn reviewed to be some of the best in all of movie theatre history.
Do be sure to check up on the show timings before you go, and dress appropriately since things can get very hot or cold depending on the weather outside.
2. Natural spectacles
Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park
Desolation Sound is one of the most well-known establishments from the city of Powell River. You’ll find some of the most serene views and diverse natural spectacles in the park. From seemingly endless waterways to snow-capped mountains towering above the waters, this place has it all.
It is lauded as the most beautiful area for a cruise by the local yachtsmen of British Columbia, who go on to hail it as the best place for a boating trip in the entire province. Spreading out a vast 8,449-hectares, the park is filled with plenty of small but beautiful details to spice up the day and mood of whoever plans to visit the place.
Since the place is highly attractive for those who love to have a row or paddle, there are plenty of docking bays and anchorages in the area. Some of the prominent ones are Grace Harbour, Theodosia Inlet, Thors Cove, Wootton Bay, Mink Island, Tenetos Bay and Prideaux Heaven.
We could honestly spend all day talking about the brilliant features of Desolate Sound Provincial Park, but there’s a lot more to Powell River than just the park itself. Click here if you’d like to check out all the details about Desolate Sound.
Haywire Bay Regional Park
Another one of the more famous parks in the Powell River area, the Haywire Bay Regional Park boasts of not one but two swimming beaches within its marked ranges. It is an ideal spot for picnicking, swimming, canoeing, fishing or boating with friends and family.
Apart from the aforementioned activities, the park has about 48 different campsites for hikers and campers to enjoy and has opportunities for hiking as well. The Lost Lake Trail can be accessed through the park and is of a rather high difficulty compared to the other hiking trails in the region.
Inland Lake Provincial Park
An absolutely unmissable sight if you’re in the area, visitors simply cannot get enough of the Inland Lake Provincial Park. It’s just one of those sights that leave visitors coming back for more. The best way to explore the park is on a bike, as the way around is pretty long. It would also be wise to recommend that you bring along a water bottle for your trip to Inland Lake.
The trail along the park is about 13 kilometres long and is very well maintained throughout the year. Spending an afternoon at the lake with friends or family, with a picnic packed for the group is arguably the best way to enjoy the park. The hiking trail along the park merges with the famous Sunshine Coast Trail, so be sure to check that out if you’re in for a long hike.
Along with biking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming and camping are among the other great things that visitors can do at Inland Lake. It is a really pretty lake and demands a dip in the water, so be sure to get your swimsuit should you ever find yourself in the area.
3. Things to do
Considering that the waters around Powell River rarely ever freeze up, unlike the scene in the other parts of the province, fishing is one of the most enjoyable and regular ways to enjoy yourself in the area. The access points to Powell Forest Canoe Route are some of the best places to start for anglers of all ages in the area. Malaspina Strait is one of the places in the area that have shallow waters, so plan accordingly.
Since the conditions for anglers are so favourable across all seasons, fishing charters can be found in the area aplenty. There are a vast number of charters in the area, all guided by seasoned men who know the waters of the area through and through and know just when to tell the anglers to send in their reels.
Boating and Canoeing/Kayaking
There are as many as 32 lakes in Powell River. Though not all of them are ideal for the best boating experience of the Coast of BC, we’ll pick out the best ones from the plethora of water bodies available for a ride.
The Powell Forest and Bowron Lakes Canoe Route are some of the most favoured routes by the boating enthusiasts in the area. Ever since the former’s establishment in the 1940s, it has been right up there with some of the best routes for taking a boat ride on in the area.
When it comes to lakes, the Inland Lake, Confederation Lake and Haslan Lake are some of the best lakes in the region for taking out the time to enjoy a quiet day out on the water.
Houseboating is one of the best ways to enjoy the best of Powell River, especially considering that houseboat charters are available for rent for the Powell River as well as the Powell Lake, both of which are the most amazing water bodies in the area. Heralded as the jewel of Sunshine Coast, you’re bound to have a good time on the water in and around the Powell River area.
As it is with almost every other part of Canada, it is impossible to mention an attractive tourist spot without going over the hiking trails in the region that give tourists access to an unlimited amount of natural spectacles and the chance to find hidden treasures in nature.
The Sunshine Coast Trail is the crown jewel of hiking trails in the Powell River area. It spreads out at a humongous 180 kilometres and is vast enough to rival the West Coast Trail in terms of views, scenery and thrilling adventures that one could get to take while hiking.
The Sunshine Coast Trail starts from the Saltery Bay ferry terminal in the south. Its course finds its end at Sarah Point in the aforementioned Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park. While it can be compared to the West Coast Trail, it is without a doubt easier than the extremely challenging hike of the coast along Vancouver Island.
One of the things that make the hike more comfortable is the presence of user-maintained huts along the Sunshine Coast Trail. (The list of huts and their details can be found by clicking the link here) While the Sunshine Coast offers a rather wide variety of huts for hikers to spend the night and rest, those who chose to hike the west coast trail do not have access to such amenities and must spend the night camping.
The complete hike takes about 7 to 10 days to complete from one extreme point to the other. However, various smaller sections of the hike can be completed in a single day or a few hours. The highest point on the trail is Mount Troutbridge which stands at a towering 4,260 feet / 1,299 metres above sea level.
Sweetwater Trail is among the easier and shorter trails in the region which make it a great place for the lesser experienced hikers to find their footing. It is classified as a loop trail and spans a generous 4.3 miles/ 7 kilometres.
On the other hand, Lang Creek Trail and Marathon-Appleton Trail are considered easier than the Sweetwater Trail by the more experienced hikers. The former is very short, spreading out at only 5 kilometres, whereas the latter spreads out at a more lengthy 15 kilometres. Both of them are very easy and could be considered for those who plan to hike with young kids and prioritise safety.
The thrill of cycling down an open, well-maintained road is simply too good to describe in words. You feel one with the wind and at peace as you pedal through a smooth track with little obstruction. Luckily for the riders, Powell River has some of the best cycling tracks in all of Western Canada.
A wide variety of cycling roads can be found coming off the ever-important Highway 101, which is key to connecting multiple important parts that we’ve already talked about so far. The cycling roads pass through Paradise Valley, which is labelled as an agricultural area.
Should you pedal north of Powell River, you’ll find yourself on a 23-kilometre journey to the nearby destination of Lund. You’ll find yourself face to face with a pretty steep hill, but it’s your choice to conquer it or not.
The Wellington Beach Trail also offers some of the best cycling trails in Powell River, extremely scenic and extremely rewarding for whoever takes this path.
Much like normal cycling, mountain biking also has a great prospect in the Powell River region. The Upper Sunshine Coast area is the best place to try out your mountain biking skills in the area, with the clearly marked and well-maintained roads being extremely easy to follow and traverse.
Elephant Bay Loop is one of the best ways to explore Powell River on a bike, as the loop will take you an entire day to explore. Duck Lake Road, Bunster Hills Loop and Malaspina Trails are some of the other epic mountain biking routes in the region that simply cannot be avoided mentioning. Do take some time to check out some of these biking routes if you have a taste for the sport and find yourself in the area to do all these amazing things.
The local festivals are what add to the speciality and the uniqueness of any place on the face of the Earth. Let’s have a look at Powell River’s own traditions.
International Choral Kathaumixw
A global gathering of world-class artists, this choral function pools together some of the best harmonic voices that you will ever have the chance of hearing in one place. It is held not once but twice a year. Apart from concerts, there are seminars, workshops, social events, concert tours and vocal competitions that showcase talent, as well as international conductors that have years of experience under their belt.
Powell River Sea Fair
The Powell River Sea Fair is the extravaganza of the summer, with the event being held every single July for locals and tourists alike. It is held over a particular weekend and showcases a carnival, held on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Multiple competitions held on the beaches include volleyball tournaments, boat races, karaoke for the kids and a fishing derby.
Topped off with live music as well, the Sea Fair is one of the signature attractions of the summer for the small, but hearty and historical townsite.
As the name suggests, this event held in concordance with the Powell River Sea Fair draws in people from all parts of the country to participate in sports and craft competitions involving logs. Among the regular fixtures, you’ll find chainsaw log carving, ae throwing, tree climbing and log rolling to name a few.
British Columbia loves its blackberries, and a festival dedicated to the fruit is arguably the most fitting way to celebrate the union of Canadians and blackberries. The Blackberry festival features a highly competitive contest for the best homemade blackberry wine. The Festival is held during the peak season of blackberry growth, in tribute to blackberries growing everywhere in British Columbia.
As you might guess, there are a vast number of stalls offering dishes made specially out of blackberries, and live music, visual arts, pies, and a thrilling fireworks display to go with the block party that the organisers throw!
Texada Sandcastle Weekend Festival
The Shelter Point Park is the site of the annual Sandcastle Weekend festival, held in the prime summer season during the latter half of the month of July. You can watch or participate in the festivities, as the people of Powell River geat creative with sand and design some of the most creative sandcastles to ever be designed. Coupled with lie entertainment and food, the Texada Sandcastle Weekend Festival is an absolute must-see!
The city of Powell River has a rich history. It was named after Israel Wood Powell, who at the time was the superintendent of Indian Affairs for the province of British Columbia. The river and the lake in the adjoining area were named after Israel Wood Powell, who travelled up the region in the 1880s.
Before the European people came in and settled in the area, it was inhabited by a lot of the native Canadian people of the descent of the first nations. To be more specific, it was inhabited by Coast Salish Peoples of the Tla amin Nation. It was used as a passage for people who were making their way back from the famed Vancouver Island.
Powell River was the site of the largest paper mill in Western Canada at the time, with the Powell River mill starting production work in 1908. The Brooks Brothers and MJ Scanlon made a partnership and that resulted in the birth of the Powell River Company, the first pulp and paper mill in Western Canada.
Despite its glorious past rooted in the sector of print media, the mill on the bans of the Salish Sea has down-sized heavily. The mill is in a further state of decline as only three of the original paper machines are working and continue to produce publications to this day.
The city was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995, owing to the remarkable preservation of the 20th-century art forms and community that could be found within the confines of the city. Furthermore, the city was declared a “Cultural Capital of Canada” in 2004, which just goes to show its rich cultural heritage and the impact that it brings to Canadian tourism.
Black Bears and Cougars are the most prominent land animals in Powell River. Among the birds, you’ll find bald eagles, Great Blue Herons and Marbled Murrelets. Due to the proximity of the city of Powell River to various surrounding water bodies, Orcas or killer whales, Northern (Stellar) Sea Lions and Pacific White-Sided Dolphins are some of the most prominent water-borne animals that inhabit the area.
As mentioned above, salmon, lingcod and cutthroat trout are some of the most notable species of fish residing in the area.
Having discussed the fauna found in the region, it would be wise to nudge you in the direction of the huge amount of varied flora that can be found in Powell River. Follow the link here to get to know all about the rare and common species of flora that can be found in the city.
Powell River is one of the most beautiful attractions of the western coast of Canada. While not the largest in stature, it surely has a lot to offer to tourism, being an absolutely historic townsite.
Click here to read more about the thrilling adventures that you can have on the Canadian west coast.