• About

    About Townsite Heritage Society

  • About  Townsite Heritage  Society

    About  Townsite Heritage  Society

    The Townsite Heritage Society was formed in 1992 with the following objectives stated in its Constitution:  


    To protect, enhance, maintain and promote the historical character and integrity of the traditional neighbourhood and business section of the Powell River Townsite by educating our children, adults and tourists through:

  • Architecture - Commercial

    Historically, our community was preplanned with principles generated from progressive philosophical movements arising as a result of the excesses of industrialization in the late 19th century.

    The Garden City and Arts and Crafts Movements influenced Powell River's planners of 1910 in regard to the location and architectural style of our homes, parks, green belts, commercial buildings and recreation facilities.

    Townsite homes built before 1930 depended on add-on and decorative elements for articulation and architectural interest.

    For example, the use of roof brackets, add-on porch structures, boxed windows, and decorative porch and veranda posts and balustrades were common.

    Click on a  photo to the right for a write-up and photos of commercial buildings built in the early part of the 1900’s.

  • Architecture - RESIDENTIAL STYLES

    Architecture - RESIDENTIAL STYLES


    Bank of Montreal

    During the depression years, the Powell River Company requested a loan from the Bank of Commerce to undertake the expansion of their facilities. The Bank of Commerce turned them down. The Company went to great lengths and expense to find a bank which would provide them with the required loan.


    The Company Store

    Another of the first buildings to be erected in Powell River was a simple and functional Frontier style structure which housed dry goods, groceries and offices.


    Dwight Hall


    Townsite Heritage Articles


    Ocean View Apartments

    By 1916, Powell River, was a community with an expanding population. The tent community was gone and residents were now housed in spacious family homes and apartments. All the amenities the town's population needed were in service and the pulp and paper mill was expanding.


    Patricia Theatre

    Built in 1928, the Patricia Theatre has been characterized as exuding subdued elegance. The external architecture was designed in the Spanish Renaissance style, highlighted by the ornamentation on the upper external facade. No other buildings in Townsite have these unique features and styling.


    Philosophical  Foundations

    The essential components of the Garden City Movement were grounded in basic respect for the humanity of the individual worker and their family. In order to turn around the prevailing attitudes of the time and create a humane environment in industrial towns, four basic principles were established:


    The town was to be entirely preplanned.

    Homes for employees and their families were to be constructed by the employer ensuring that each home had "ample room, ample air and a place in the yard for a garden".

    That the entire town was to be surrounded by a green belt of trees or agricultural parkland.

    The town should incorporate to the best advantage a mix of industry, commerce, residential, gardens and green spaces.

    The proponents of the movement felt that by preplanning an entire town on principles which enhanced the livability for it's residents. the opportunity for a fuller life would be possible, encouraging intellectual, moral and physical development.


    The reason the Powell River Company went to great expense to provide an extraordinary living environment for the community may be explained more concisely by another philosophical movement adopted by the town's planners at that time. This movement was called the Arts and Craft Movement and arose at the same time as the Garden City Movement.


    The Arts and Crafts Movement was not a formalized society as was the Garden City Movement, nor did it have a formalized agenda. It was very loosely structured and had a broad influence in a number of diverse areas, based on three basic principles. These principles can be recognized in Powell River's Townsite not only by the quality of construction which was undertaken but that the actual designs of the homes from 1909 to 1925 modeled the precepts of the Arts and Crafts Movement.


    Firstly, the Movement postulated that the individual would be a better person if he or she were stimulated in the "hand, head and heart". Further, if a number of individuals were stimulated in this way, a greater good would arise with respect to community and industrial stability and productivity.


    Secondly, the Movement extolled the virtue of quality and the therapeutic benefits that flow from creating or being exposed to the highest standards in a wide variety of mediums.


    Lastly, the movement re-emphasized a greater appreciation for the natural environment. Objects of art, artefacts, building design and town planning emphasized nature, in contrast to the prevailing trends of Post Victorian sensibilities.


    Brooks and Scanlon drew from these philosophical movements in the creation of Powell River. The town was preplanned, complete with public gardens and tree-lined streets, all maintained by the Company. Also a tree buffer zone was designated to surround the Townsite and separate it from the neighbourhoods of Westview, Cranberry and Wildwood.


    As for the homes, they were initially constructed in Craftsman style designs which fell directly under the Arts and Crafts Movement umbrella. Powell River was a progressive avant-garde community amid the BC wilderness coastline. Today, the unique underpinnings which fostered this community have been acknowledged. In 1995, the Townsite of Powell River was officially recognized as an intact example of a Garden City community, and federally designated as a National Historic District.


    Paper Pioneers

    The uniqueness and significance of Powell River today can be greatly attributed to the philosophical perspectives of our early cofounders, Dr. Dwight Brooks, Anson Brooks and M.J. Scanlon.


    At the time of the Powell River Company's incorporation in 1909, the prevailing attitude among industrialists could be characterized by an increasing lust for profit and virtually little regard for the working men and women and their families. Degenerating conditions at mines, factories and pulp and paper mills were reflected by increasing squalid and disease-ridden living environments.


    Enlightened spokespeople, as early as the late 19th century, decried the workers situation and subsequently formed movements to present alternate ways in which the relationship between employer and employee could be approached.


    An influential movement which formed in 1885, to address the problems associated with industrialization at the time called itself The Garden City Movement. The gentlemen of the society conducted research and published their findings for preventative measures against industrial town squalor.


    Orientation to View

    Structures located on corner lots were given special attention to design, the criteria being the presence of two fronts. This feature allowed for two directions from which to orient the view. In this period the practice was described as Looking Two Ways.


    St. John's Church

    The construction of St. John's Church was the result of the residents of Powell River pooling their resources together to build a nondenominational place of worship.


    St. Joseph's Church

    In 1916, three years after the completion of the nondenominational St. John's, the Catholic community pooled their resources to build St. Joseph's Church and Rectory.
    As well as providing all the clear timber needed to build the structure the Powell River Company also provided a large sum of money to see the building completed.


    St. Luke's Hospital

    In the early years, Powell River's first hospital was located in a tent which was then replaced with a bunkhouse. After the arrival of Dr. Henderson in 1911, St. Luke's Hospital was completed in 1913.The hospital was located next door to Dr. Henderson's home.


    The Federal  Building

    Due to the ever-growing significance of the Powell River Company, the Federal Government decided to erect a building compatible with the extraordinary structures existing in the town of Powell River. With a progressive architect and an open chequebook, the result was indeed worthy of the high standards to which the residents of the town were becoming accustomed.


    The Provincial Building

    The Provincial Building was built in 1939 by the British Columbia Ministry of Public Works. Though the Tudor Revival architectural style of the building is typical of Provincial buildings, their architectural characteristics differ somewhat from other Tudor Revival buildings in the Townsite.


    The Rodmay Hotel

    Built in 1911, the Rodmay Hotel was one of the first buildings constructed by the Powell River Paper Company. The hotel was urgently required to accommodate the Company's business associates in deluxe accommodation.



    Historically, our community was preplanned with principles generated from progressive philosophical movements arising as a result of the excesses of industrialization in the late 19th century.

  • Townsite Heritage

    Townsite Heritage Articles