John Mark Powles was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but moved to Yokohama, Japan, early in life. His father and grandfather were Anglican missionaries in Japan during the early 20th century. He spent 18 years living in several different Japanese cities.
He returned to Canada for college and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Powles took several positions while working for the government of Canada in Japan, beginning with the Canadian pavilion at Expo '70 in Osaka. This led to a position with the Canadian Department of Expositions, in which Powles was responsible for all of Canada's international expositions.
Powles became the Director of Asia and Japan Operations for the Council of Forest Industries, based in Tokyo, in 1987. He also received the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan. The Japanese Ministry of Construction awarded Powles its first honor to a non-Japanese citizen.
- Lee-Young, Joanne (2010-03-16). "John Powles built important ties between Canada and Japan". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on March 23, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
- "John Mark Powles, 1948-2010". Canada-Japan Society. 2010-03-16. Retrieved 2010-03-27.