Powell River, British Columbia, Insulated by Nature
Two ferries from the lower Mainland or one from Vancouver Island to get to Powell River could leave you feeling isolated, but locals prefer to think of it as being insulated from the busy world and high crime. Powell River, situated on the side of a mountain is wrapped in forest, insulated by nature. With hundreds of lakes behind it and the ocean at its feet, locals have the best of both worlds.
Powell River and area population (Lund, Texada, Savary Island) is about 20,000. There are box stores, independent stores and eateries covering a wide range of tastes. At the south end of Powell River sit by the sea at “Seasider Bistro & Wine Bar” or at the north end closer to Lund enjoy a spectacular view of Okeover Inlet at “Laughing Oyster Restaurant.” It’s open April to October. If you want to enjoy a meal “on” the water “The Boardwalk in Lund” has gluten free cooking while a golden sun sets into the ocean.
Lund is either the beginning or the end of Highway 101 depending on who you ask. It once was a fishing village now a tourist destination for those taking off for Savary Island or other islands. “Historic Lund Hotel” was originally built in 1895, now owned by Tla’amin Nation. It has 31 rooms, a store, restaurant, pub, laundromat, and Tug Uhm Art Gallery. Camp at “Sunlund By-The-Sea Campground & Cabin,” a 5 minute walk to the hotel and “downtown” Lund. Sunlund offers full facilities; pets are welcome, laundromat and showers surrounded by forest. What a setting to wake up in before going to Nancy’s Bakery for one of their famous blackberry cinnamon buns. Fuel up before you leave Powell River. There isn’t a service station in Lund.
If you’re ready for a hike try the Sunshine Coast Trail. At 180 km. with 13 huts it’s the longest free hut-to-hut trail in Canada. Pick up part of it at “Inland Lake Provincial Park” with spacious campsites among the trees. It has a 13 km wheelchair accessible trail around the lake. The road to the park is a good gravel road about 20 mins from Powell River. It’s open year-round with free camping from mid-September to mid-May.
Is canoeing your desire? The Canoe Route is 57 km long taking you through 8 lakes with portages.
We live in Powell River but our favorite campground is downtown by the ocean. “Willingdon Beach Campground” has 81 sites, some full-service, some beside the beach, others snugged under the trees. An easy walking trail joins it through towering cedar and Douglas fir where pesky squirrels beg for peanuts. At one time it was the rail bed for bringing logs down from the lake to the log dump on the beach. Old logging equipment rests along the trail. It’s only 5 minutes from Westview Ferry terminal to Texada Island or Vancouver Island.
Historic Powell River Townsite was where it all started. Dr. Israel Wood Powell discovered the area in 1881 and established logging camps but thousands of years before him it was home to Tla’amin First Nations. A pulp and paper mill was built 1910- 1912 and went on to become the largest newsprint mill in the world. The company built a lovely town based on the English Garden plan. Take a walk around the old homes; tour Dr. Henderson’s home and when you’re tuckered out stop at “Townsite Brewery.” From a 1931 building the “Townsite Market” has grown with individual stores selling produce, unique products from hand-made chocolates to children’s clothes and more. “The Old Courthouse Inn” owners decorated each room in an antique theme and serve delicious meals in the cozy café. Go to the movies at the Patricia Theatre, the longest running theatre in Canada. In 1995 the federal government proclaimed this area a National Historic District.
If it’s culture you want, Powell River has it every month of the year. In August they shut down Highway 101/Marine Drive to celebrate the blackberry at the Blackberry Festival. Lund is famous for their Shellfish Festival in May. Every 2 years International Choral Fest Kathaumixw fills the air with music for five days. For a complete list of all that is happening in the area stop by the Powell River Visitor’s Information Centre, 4760 Joyce Ave. They have a gift store and WIFI.
There is just too much to tell in a short period of time. You’ll just have to discover how Powell River is insulated by nature for yourself. Warning: People have been known to come for a visit and 30 years later they are still here.
If this area interests you, check out our drive:
Salish Sea Route
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Published: May 23, 2019
Last Updated: August 22, 2023
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