Next to Townsite, Cranberry is the oldest neighbourhood in Powell River. This year marks its diamond jubilee.
Over the 75 years since its incorporation as Village of Cranberry in 1942, the area has gone through many transitions, including its amalgamation with Powell River, Westview and Wildwood in 1955.
Cranberry Community Hall Association is currently spearheading 75th anniversary plans. Vice-president Pat Buckna said the association wants to see Cranberry have an appropriate celebration, one that will be held on August 13.
According to Buckna, Cranberry has been somewhat overshadowed by other neighbourhoods such as Townsite and Westview over the years.
“Cranberry still has that old-time community feel to it,” he said, “and you can see it in the revitalization of the old downtown.”
As a non-profit association, Cranberry Hall was able to apply for grants to fund the party. A total of $4,050 has been awarded, with $1,000 coming from Powell River Council for Arts and Culture and $1,525 from Powell River Community Foundation. The federal government’s Canada 150 Fund matched the latter contribution.
Buckna said he hopes other community groups will want to become involved in the diamond jubilee.
Council for Arts and Culture president Nina Mussellam said a celebration for Cranberry is a great idea. Cranberry Hall’s application was easily approved by the council, which supports cultural and heritage events in the community, she added.
“So many activities will interest so many people,” said Mussellam. “It’s just a great weekend and looks like fun.”
Townsite has held frequent birthday celebrations and Cranberry having its turn is wonderful, she said.
The neighbourhood is coming back, riding the cusp of the Townsite renaissance, according to Powell River Sunshine Coast Real Estate Board president Neil Frost, who grew up in Cranberry. Frost said he has seen renewed interest in the area’s housing market.
“Even before the hot market, out-of-town buyers and even local buyers were seeing great value,” said Frost. “A rural feel, yet close to town, has a huge advantage.”
According to Powell River Historical Museum and Archives, Cranberry was built close to Townsite so millworkers could still easily walk to work. The first settlement in the area was a shingle mill on Mowat Bay that ran from 1915 to 1919.
Prior to 1942, Cranberry remained sparsely populated until the late 1930s when residents started to arrive in larger numbers, and then post-World War II, veterans’ homes were built there.
Over the years, Cranberry’s downtown area thrived with businesses, including the Town Crier newspaper, Bernier Shoes, the Owls Roost restaurant and Wilshire’s Varieties. It was Powell River’s first suburb and the first area to have street lighting.
“There was a bowling alley in the [Cranberry Motor Inn],” said Frost. “I worked at Wilshire’s, where Magpie’s Diner is now, that was my first job; everyone called it Archie’s. That was an institution; it was the hub of Cranberry.”
As a community, Cranberry is somewhere between city and country, which past and present residents find appealing.
“You can be rural and close to town,” said former longtime hall association board member Brownie Brown, who moved to the neighbourhood in 2004. “I appreciate the beauty of the place. Cranberry Lake is, as they say, a jewel, and Valentine Mountain, it’s all gorgeous here; it’s incredible.”