Townsite Walking Tour
Take a virtual stroll through Powell River’s Historic Townsite with a commentary on each tour stop. Tours are offered at a cost of $10/person, from June to August, Wednesdays at 2pm and Saturdays at 10am.
1 - St. Luke's Hospital
2 - Dr. Henderson’s House
The Kenmar Builing was originally built for Dr. Henderson as St. Luke's Hospital in 1913. Dr. Henderson, the first practicing physician in Powell River, implemented the first medical plan in BC in 1910.
In behind St. Luke's (Kenmar Building) is the former home of Dr. Henderson. Temporary shacks and tents were the usual housing of the day in 1911. Dr. Henderson's was one of the first actual houses completed in Townsite. Andrew Henderson came to Powell River as a favour to his Minnesota friends, Brooks and Scanlon. He had served during the Riel Rebellion and had been Calgary's first doctor.
3 - Oceanview Apartments
Up Arbutus Avenue at the corner of Marine sits the former Oceanview Apartments. This building was constructed in 1916 as accommodation for married employees with no children. The structure is unique, having two inner courtyards upon which all suites open. Each suite also has basement rooms for laundry and coal storage.
4 - St. Joseph's Catholic Church
5 - St. John’s United Church
Turn right on Sycamore Street and walk past Powell River's very first homes. The houses on the north side of the street were constructed in 1911.
On the corners of Ash and Sycamore stand two early Townsite churches. On the east side is St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church built in 1916 (now deconsecrated). On the west side is St. John's United Church built in 1913 (now deconsecrated) to house the congregations of all protestant denominations. Known as St. John's Union Church prior to 1920 it was a "United" church twelve years before the official Canadian United Church movement of 1925.
6 - The "Gopher Club"
As you proceed along Sycamore Street you will come to the corner of Aspen Avenue, which was once considered to the outskirts of town. On the southeast corner stands the house which was known as the Gopher Club. It was built as a boarding house where employees drawn from the Brooks and Scanlon operations in Minnesota (the Gopher State) would stay when they arrived in Powell River.
7 & 8 - Management Row
Next to the Mill View apartments is the home which housed the resident engineer and next to that is the Chief Superintendent's home, which now serves as the Regional District offices. Across the small parking lot is the former Mill Manager's home. The next house was originally built as the director's home, but after a short time was converted to the company guest house to accommodate important visitors.
9 - Patricia Theatre
In 1928 two houses at the corner of Marine and Ash were removed to building the Patricia Theatre. This is the second building of the oldest operating movie theatre business in BC. Founded by Bobby Scanlon, the first Patricia Theatre was located next to the Rodmay Hotel. It was a tall, narrow structure that shook in the wind. Everyone loved the silent movies and happily put up with the seating the occasional fluttering of bats.
11 - Federal Building
Across the street a logging locomotive used to rumble through the Townsite on its way to the Willingdon Beach landing. The track was taken up in 1926, but the rail bed from the former golf course to Beach, referred to as Lovers' Land in the 1920s, is now an excellent walking trail.
Turning left and proceeding down Ash Street you will pass the fine brink building that was opened as the Federal Building in 1929. This structure was intended to reflect the strength and stability of the government and was constructed at a cost of $50,000. It housed the Post Office, Customs and Excise and the Canadian Telegraph operations, which remained its function until 1974.
12 - Dwight Hall
As you come to the corner turn left onto Walnut Street. Next to the 1929 Cenotaph is the Grand Old Lady of the Townsite, Dwight Hall. Built in 1927, the hall is every bit as handsome today as it was in the "roaring 20s"
Every organization had an annual ball and every enjoyed the springy dance floor that could hold 800 people. Dwight Hall was said to the be the grandest community hall in BC at the time it was built. The library and lodge facilities were housed on the lower level of the building. Concerts, masquerade balls and gatherings of all sorts took place in the main hall. Dwight Hall is still the centre of many community activities today.
13 - Rodmay Hotel
Welcome to the "old town" of Powell River, which was designated a National Historic District by the Government of Canada in October, 1995.
Standing at the foot of Ash Street outside the mill gates you see the Rodmay Hotel. Originally known as the Powell River Hotel it was the first commercial building in Powell River constructed for Andrew McKinney in 1911. For the first few years pigs were kept in a pen just outside the hotel. They were removed when a playing field was cleared on the southern side where the mill offices now stand. The hotel stairs and fires escapes made good bleachers for the early ball games, soccer and holiday races.
In 1917 McKinney sold the hotel to Rod and May Macintyre and the name was changed to the Rodmay. Many renovations have taken place over the years with retail space added at the front, but the original hotel is still in place.
14 - Bank of Montreal
As you walk up Ash Street you will see the Bank of Montreal building at the corner of Walnut Street. This beautiful mock-Tudor structure was designed by John Mcintyre, the Powell River Company's Townsite Manager, in 1931. All Townsite construction between 1919 and 1931 was the product of this man's planning.
15 - Sing Lee Block
Across the street from the bank building is the Townsite Mall constructed in 1940 as the Powell Stores. This is the original site of the Sing Lee Store building in 1912. Sam Sing had been providing a laundry and grocery service down on the waterfront for the Michigan and Puget Sound loggers. He built his new store in this location and rented space to other merchants.
The Sing Lee block housed the Star Restaurant, the Sing Lee General Store, Wilshire and Lant Clothing, the Pool Room, the Union Tailor Shop and the first Local 76 headquarters.
The Powell River Company had always wanted to buy out their competition and they were successful in 1923. Sam Sing moved his business to the Shinglemill on Powell Lake. The building was renamed the Brooklon Black (after Powell River Company founders Dwight and Anson Brooks and Michael Scanlon). The building was razed in 1941 for the construction of the existing building.
16 - Northwest Telephone Company
Next to the Bank of Montreal on Walnut Street stands the former Northwest Telephone Building built in 1931. Powell River has always been technologically progressive. In 1912 the Powell River Company installed crank telephones in the mill and department managers' homes. In 1921 the first dial phones in BC were installed in the mill and in 1930 Powell River received the Province's first radio telephone circuit.
17 - Provincial Building
Across Walnut Street is the former Provincial Building constructed in 1939 at a cost of $20,000. This building housed the BC Police, the courtroom, relief services and jail cells. In 1980 the provincial departments vacated the premises and the building was sold to private ownership.
If you would like to take an actual Tour, stop by the Townsite Heritage Society’s office for a map.