Sunny Westview in Powell River

Old world eclectic charm can be found down by the river.

  Arlene and I had heard good reports about Westview, located on the upper Sunshine Coast of British Columbia within the traditional territory of the Sliammon First Nation, and we decided to check it out on our summer cruise north. The boater’s grapevine had piqued our interest, with rumblings of a number of affordable and funky cafes and restaurants within walking distance of the marina.

Westview is one of four communities that make up the town of Powell River, on the mainland side of the Strait of Georgia, midway between Pender Harbour and Lund. For boaters headed to or from Desolation Sound, it’s a good place to hide when the waters of Malaspina Strait kick up.

Powell River built the first pulp and paper mill in western Canada and was once home to the largest pulp and paper mill operation in the world. Following the boom days of pulp and paper, this community of just more than 13,000 people is enjoying a quiet resurgence as an attraction for history buffs, foodies and outdoor enthusiasts. Today Powell River is a mix of artisans, mill workers, ex-hippies, avid gardeners, watersports enthusiasts, young families and retirees.

Prior to entering the south basin, south of the ferry terminal, we hailed the wharf manager on the VHF for a slip assignment for Easy Goin’. She responded quickly and said she would meet us on the float to assist with the lines. The north section of the marina is reserved for permanent moorage. Anyone who hasn’t visited Westview Harbour recently is in for a treat. The first pleasant surprise that we discovered was the cheapest moorage in the area, $0.80 (Canadian) per foot, with full amenities including 30- and 50-amp power, water, excellent washrooms, showers and laundry, a garbage drop, a recycling station, waste oil disposal and Wi-Fi. The marina is open year round.

A waterfront and wharf redevelopment was completed in 2012, so boaters now enjoy an extended breakwater and new docks, which can handle boats up to 150 feet. Westview Fuels in the south basin offers gas, diesel, lubricants and snacks.

The Seawalk is a beautiful two-and-a- half-mile round-trip walk from the wharf south along the waterfront. The view includes Vancouver Island across Malaspina Strait and breathtaking sunsets. Another short walk is along Marine Avenue where the sides of buildings are covered with murals that depict Powell River’s history.

During a leisurely stroll along Marine Avenue, we found a variety of bookstores, gift shops, galleries, a bakery and a bowling alley. I spent more than an hour roaming the aisles of the Marine Trader, a wellstocked chandlery that has been in business for more than 60 years. Down the street, an old-fashioned butcher shop, The Chopping Block, has a selection of meats, seafood, smoked sausage and cheese.

There is no shortage of excellent eateries in Westview. Just a couple blocks from the marina is the Thaidal Zone Restaurant for folks who like Thai food. For pizza or bakery goods, Rocky Mountain Pizza & Bakery Co. is the place to go. Lumber Jack Bistro & Deli is known for great deli food. Just up the road is the Coastal Cookery, which features a West Coast dining menu. For Latin cuisine, Costa del Sol is the place to go. For a relaxed sit-down lunch or dinner with a view, enjoy one of two covered outdoor decks at Tree Frog Lodge & Bistro.

It might be worth timing a visit with one of many arts, music or food festivals that take place each year, such as the Powell River Prawn Festival held in June. In August, during the weeklong Blackberry Festival, Marine Avenue comes alive in a celebration the whole family can enjoy with entertainment, music, dancing in the street, sampling food and enjoying the arts and crafts. Also in August is Beer on the Pier, a two-day event of live music, food and beer.

If you’re in need to a round of golf, the 18-hole Myrtle Point Golf Club is a short drive south of Westview, and transportation is provided by calling (604) 487-4653. With all that we discovered, Westview will be on our future float plans when we travel north.