Powell River is a city on the south mainland coast of British Columbia, Canada. Most of its population lives near the eastern shores of Malaspina Strait, that part of the larger Strait of Georgia between Texada Island and the mainland. This region is sometimes referred to as the upper Sunshine Coast. It is the seat of the Powell River Regional District. The city is bounded by the Strait of Georgia to the south and west, Lund and Desolation Sound Marine Park to the north, and the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains with Jervis Inlet to the east. These geographical surroundings explain Powell River's reputation as a remote community, despite a relative proximity to Vancouver and other populous areas of the BC coast.
Powell River is situated within a Temperate Coastal Rainforest, Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone.
On average, the CWH is the rainiest biogeoclimatic zone in British Columbia. The zone typically has a cool mesothermal climate: cool summers (although)hot dry spells can be frequent) and, mild winters. Mean annual temperature is about 8°C and ranges from 5.2 to 10.5°C among the CWH subzones. The mean monthly temperature is above 10°C for 4-6 months of the year. The mean temperature of the coldest month is 0.2°C and ranges from -6.6 to 4.7°C among the subzones. Mean annual precipitation for the zone as a whole is 2228 mm, and ranges from 1000 to 4400 mm (and probably more in some areas). Less than 15% of total precipitation occurs as snowfall in the south,but as much as 40-50% in the northern parts of the zone.
The river was named for Israel Wood Powell, who was at that time superintendent of Indian Affairs for BC. He was travelling up the coast of BC in the 1880s and the river and lake were named in his honour.
The pulp mill was started in 1908, with a corresponding townsite company town commenced in 1910: the first roll of paper was produced in 1912. Similarly, large logging companies had earlier moved in to take advantage of the huge timber. Brooks, Scanlon & Obrien; Bloedel, Stewart and Welch; and Theodosia Logging were but a few logging companies, with the Brooks brothers and M.J. Scanlon forming the Powell River Company, western Canada's first pulp and paper mill. The Historic Townsite was designated a National Historic District by Parks and Monuments Canada in 1995, recognizing the exceptionally well preserved early 20th Century planned community, rooted firmly in the Garden City Design Movement and the Arts and Crafts philosophy.
When the British Columbia Credit Unions Act was passed in 1939, a study club organized by local millworkers secured the first charter with a deposit of $48.30. The mill provided a small office space at very low rent in the early years. By 1955, when Powell River Credit Union(now 'First Credit Union') moved into a permanent office, it had over 3,000 members and $1 million in assets.
The pulp mill in Powell River was at one time the largest pulp mill in the world. It has significantly cut back on production and now produces specialty paper for Catalyst Paper Corporation. The subsequent diversification of the local economy led to an increased focus on ecotourism and the arts, in addition to more traditional resources like mining, fishing, and general forestry. In recognition of its strong arts & cultural programs, Powell River was named a "Cultural Capital of Canada" in 2004.
The population of the Powell River Regional District is (2001 Census) 19,765. Of this 12,983 live in the District Municipality of Powell River. Although these numbers have remained static since the 1970s, recent (2006) figures indicate that the regional population is showing signs of renewed growth, and may have reached 22,000.
The Powell River area is the traditional home to the [[Tla'Amin)] nation of the Coast Salish people, who still reside there to this day in their traditional village of Sliammon.