Monday, December 22, 2008

The Powell River Paper Mill

Whether you arrive in Powell River, BC, by land, air or sea, one of the first things you will see is the paper mill. The City of Powell River was born and grew up as a company town, and its present and future are still strongly linked to this major industry.

In the early 1900’s, entrepreneurial individuals explored Coastal BC looking for ways to profit from the abundant natural resources. Powell River is strategically located at the mouth of the Powell River and surrounded by lush forests. In 1909 the Minnesota based Brooks and Scanlon company purchased pulp leases and water rights to Powell Lake then incorporated as the Powell River Paper Company.

Two paper machines soon grew to four, and in 1911 the company name was changed to the Powell River Company. Thus, by 1912, Powell River became the first newsprint-producing mill in Western Canada providing for the needs of growing Vancouver and Seattle newspapers.

Over the last fifty years, ownership of the mill has changed several times. In 1959 the Powell River Company merged with MacMillian Bloedel to become MacMillan Bloedel & Powell River Ltd. In 1966 the name was shortened to MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. In 1998 the mill was sold to Pacifica Papers and then again in 2001 to Norske Skog Canada Ltd., soon to be called NorskeCanada followed by Catalyst Paper Corporation.

Today, Catalyst’s paper mill in Powell River is no longer the largest in the world. Downsizing over the last 10 years has significantly decreased the workforce and production output. Powell River’s economy has diversified, but the mill is still a driving force in our community. I invite you to come visit and see how our small company town has grown to be the “Pearl of the Sunshine Coast.”

If you haven't seen it yet, check out my post on the mill's unique cement ship breakwater called the Hulks. For more information try these links about the history of Powell River.

Powell River Museum
Powell River My Home
Paper Pioneers

If you want more information about Powell River, visit the Tourism Powell River website. -- Margy


  1. The third pic wwas my favourite. I can almost feel the smell of pulp from that factory.

  2. This is a great post describing an interesting aspect to your world and your community. Our worlds are constantly shifting and changing and all we can do is adapt and create new opportunities as the times continue to change.

    Happy Holidays to you too Powell River.

  3. Great shots, Margy! Thanks for sharing your world. :)

  4. enjoying your posts about powell...very interesting and informative as well. and the pictures are beautiful.
    happy holidays.