When the sun reclines on the horizon off the coastline of British Columbia it floods the Sunshine Coast with a yellow luminosity that soon gives way to moonlight, polishing the water of Georgia Straight in silver reflection. On such a summer night Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” might be heard through the streets of Powell River as the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific(SOAP)begins its quiet commitment then reaches “unbridled” power. Two hundred years ago Beethoven named this Sonata, “Quasi Una Fantasia”, translated from Italian to mean “Almost a Fantasy” – symbolic of the nature, community and culture found in Powell River and on the Sunshine Coast.
Due to its secluded location or because of the city’s namesake Dr. Israel Powell (a free-education pioneer who made the initial motion for BC to join Canada in 1867), the Powell River region has developed a rich appreciation for education, music, and artistic performance. Arrive by ferry from Comox on Vancouver Island, or by two ferries from Horseshoe Bay at Vancouver; come for the fresh air, the protected location, or the exceptionally warm climes, but come to the Sunshine Coast. For retirement, recreation, or respite there is an array of exciting real estate for those who value culture and nature in one convenient location.
The area offers 20,000 residents modern amenities, including the Powell River General Hospital, the Recreation Complex with two ice rinks and a swimming pool, marinas, tourist services, and a variety of shopping (unique boutique to big box shop). Riverites faithfully cheer on the green, white, and gold of their BCHL Hockey Team champions, Powell River Kings. It is the perfect Canadian city, an ideal hometown.
Students are privileged to attend a progressive education system wherein academics are offered along with film, gourmet cooking, golf course management, and vocational training. Vancouver Island University‘s satellite campus and the 400-seat Max Cameron Theatre have been welcomed additions to an already creative town. In the 1930s the Powell River Pipe Band began with a handful of Scottish mill-workers keeping their culture alive; their tartan graced the continent as proud ambassadors (and champions) of their small town.
In 1970s the Powell River Boys’ Choir and the Powell River Girls Choir were formed. This tradition of musical excellence has since exploded under the leadership of the Powell River Academy of Music, which orchestrates the Annual Concert Series as well as the International Choral Kathaumixw, “a gathering together of different peoples”. For more than twenty years Kathaumixw has attracted choirs from across the world every second summer. Furthermore, PRISMA attracts 600 musicians each July; spontaneous concerts spring up on city streets, beaches, and parks.
Powell River has diversified its economic focus from natural resources to include tourism, government agencies, education, and arts and culture. It is full of hardworking families who have lived in town for generations. The Patricia Theatre has thrilled movie-goers for almost 100 years, the longest continually-operating theatre in Canada and one of 430 heritage buildings and homes recognized as a National Historic District (circa 1910-1930).
Texada Island is a stone’s throw from the coastline and more than 1,000 residents enjoy creative commerce, carefree lifestyles, and incredible real estate options. The natural beauty of the Sunshine Coast is staggering; the area has 32 lakes, numerous trails, and marine playgrounds. Riverites are at home paddling, scuba diving on relics, mountain biking, or relaxing with a fishing rod in-hand.
The Powell Forest Canoe Route challenges paddlers to portage an 80km matrix of streams and lakes. Equally appealing, the Sunshine Coast Trail begins at the Saltery Bay ferry dock and runs the coast to Sarah Point in Desolation Sound, the wilderness hiking trail covers 180 stunning kilometers. The Willingdon Beach Trail, a reconstituted railway bed, is now a network of hiking and biking trails. The challenging Bunster Hills Loop is found on the road to Lund, a picturesque fishing village north of Powell River and the “gateway to Desolation Sound”. It is also the beginning of Highway 101, the 15,202km Pacific Coastal Highway. Beginning in Quellon, Chile it is one of world’s longest highways. The Marathon-Appleton Trail guides hikers to vistas at Gibraltar and Gentle David Lookouts near Sliammon, home to the Tla’Amin First Nation for more than two thousand years.
The Sunshine Coast also knows how to relax; houseboats putter Powell Lake and the 18-hole Myrtle Beach Golf Course is balanced between long fairways and marine seascapes. Sunny days are spent at the bowling green, tennis courts or sports fields. And an important Canadian tradition lives-on at the curling rink. Because of its secluded location Powell River has developed into an incredibly safe community with an independent spirit – once you arrive, you’ll never look back.