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Travel writer gives Powell River top spot

Article describes heritage theatre as heart of the town

United States travel writer Gary Warner has declared Powell River his “favourite foreign town” and the length of the entire Sunshine Coast as his “best drive, foreign” in his year-end wrap-up of the best in travel for 2011.

Warner, who writes for the Orange County Register in Orange County, California, has included Powell River in a list that takes readers from secluded beaches in Hawaii to the hustle and bustle of Rome.

In the article, Warner writes that “no journalist could fail to love the town that was once home to the largest pulp and paper mill in the world.” In an email to the Peak, Warner explained he has visited western Canada many times before and this time wanted to go somewhere different. With his newspaper paying the way, Warner travelled up Vancouver Island, took the ferry across to Powell River and then travelled back down the Sunshine Coast to Vancouver.

With a known love for heritage preservation, Warner had heard of the preservation efforts in Townsite and wanted to see the town for himself. He visited for only a day but found much to appreciate in that short time. He highlights the architecture, along with the art-colony-meets-heritage-town feel, as his favourite aspect of Powell River. He also describes Patricia Theatre as the “heart of the town,” although he mistakes its famous peacocks on the interior walls as pink flamingos.

“What I liked about Powell River was that it hadn’t moved totally away from its roots,” wrote Warner to the Peak. “Some of the towns closer to Vancouver have more of a touristy feel. Powell River seemed—at least to this outsider—as having retained its texture even amid big changes.”

As for the drive and ferry ride along the coast, Warner wrote of the combination of ferries and driving as notable for being able to take “visitors from a great metropolis to quiet former lumber mill towns in half a day.”

Paul Kamon, Tourism Powell River marketing director, said the honour was completely unsolicited but most welcome. Tourists from the United States are second in number only to fellow Canadians, so Kamon said any publicity south of the border is positive.

“It’s an absolutely phenomenal thing to be recognized like that,” said Kamon. “We’re on a list with Vegas and Rome and San Francisco.”

Warner said that while he enjoyed his short visit, he could have stayed longer and hopes to visit again.