Mysterious Powell Lake: A Collection of Historical Tales


96 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88839-983-9






Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



This is an I-remember-the-good-old-days work, a selective look back at events and characters associated with the Powell Lake and River district of southern British Columbia. Most of the text is concerned with the 1900 to 1950 period, with occasional reaches forward to update the material to the 1970s.

The text is a blend of oral history, reminiscences, a reprint of newspaper articles, a few poems, and a sprinkling of black-and-white photos of the family album type.

Subjects touched on include logging, prospecting, clearing land, bush farming, primitive schools, internment of the Japanese during World War II, tug boats, shingle mills, snow surveys and, in general, the life of a frontier shanty town. The treatment of all these topics is very superficial, with the predominant interest being in “characters” — those individualistic men about whom local lore and legends developed.

Like so many local histories, this work suffers from a lack of professional editing, a clearly defined objective, and a usable organization.

The work comes close to telling us something about our Canadian background. The material, however, remains mired in the specific — a disjointed, fractured look at one limited geographic area. It misses its potential as a means of universalizing the Canadian experience. As a result, the book is of local interest only.


Mobley, Carla, “Mysterious Powell Lake: A Collection of Historical Tales,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed August 19, 2022,