William Bruce Powel (1889-1965) operated Powel’s Mens Wear, a long running Duncan business which, at various times, operated in the Whittome Building, 45 Craig Street (now Just Jake’s Restaurant) and 25 Craig Street (now the Craig Street Brew Pub). A City of Duncan heritage plaque mounted outside 45 Craig Street mentions William Powel and his Powel’s Mens’ Wear.

He worked for Cowichan Merchants Ltd. circa 1910-1918 before going into a clothing business with Matthias K. McMillan between 1918-1929. He subsequently started his own business, Powel’s Mens’ Wear, which remained in business in downtown Duncan until 2004.

William Bruce Powel, of Powel's Mens' Wear, in Masonic regalia, circa 1958
William Bruce Powel, of Powel’s Mens’ Wear, in Masonic regalia, circa 1958 (courtesy of Temple Lodge, No.33)

Here is a brief biography of William Bruce Powel taken from his obituary in the Cowichan Leader newspaper:

“W.B. Powel, clothier, dies at 75

In the mens’ clothing business in Duncan for nearly 50 years, William Bruce Powel, aged 75, died suddenly last Wednesday in King’s Daughters’ Hospital.

Mr. Powel would have celebrated his golden jubilee in the clothing business this year.

Born at Vittoria, Ont., October 25, 1889, he came to Duncan with his parents in 1907. He learned his trade with the former Cowichan Merchants Ltd. and subsequently entered business in a series of partnerships (Matthias K. McMillan was in partnership with William Powel 1918 to 1929)and then on his own behalf, in stores which played a leading role in this field in the community.

In his younger days he played on early Duncan basketball teams and later became a leading member of the old Cowichan Golf Club.

Mr. Powel was a past master of Temple Lodge, No. 33, A.F. & A.M. He was secretary of Duncan Rotary Club in 1930-31, president of the club in 1941-42 and was among the few surviving charter members.

He had taken an active part in community affairs, heading the Conquer Cancer campaign here for many years. He also served as treasurer of St. John’s Anglican Church for several years.

Predeceased by his first wife, Veda, in 1960, he is survived by his wife, Margaret; three daughters, Mrs. G. Lock (Aileen), Courtenay; Mrs. F. Irwin (Doris), Maple Bay Road, and Mrs. J. Pepler (Elizabeth) Nanaimo; one stepson, Leslie Atchison; five grandchildren, two brothers, Henry and Duncan Powel, and one sister, Miss Elizabeth Powel.

Funeral services were held Saturday from Hirst Funeral Chapel, Trunk Road, followed by cremation. In lieu of flowers, friends were invited to send donations to B.C. Cancer Society, through G.D. Allester, local chairman.”

(Source: Cowichan Leader, September 1965 – from Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives collections)

Cowichan Merchants Building, Craig Street and Station Street, Duncan, B.C.
Cowichan Merchants Building, Craig Street and Station Street, Duncan, B.C. William Bruce Powel worked here circa 1910-1918
45 Craig Street, Duncan, B.C., now Just Jake's Restaurant
45 Craig Street, Duncan, B.C., now Just Jake’s Restaurant. Powel’s Mens’ Wear was located in 45 Craig Street circa 1947-1974.

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