Smithers ~ The Town For All Seasons....especially rodeo season !
The Town of Smithers is situated in the Bulkley Valley of northwestern British Columbia directly on the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway (Route 16), approximately half way between the cities of Prince Rupert and Prince George.
Smithers is a town of 6000 people and is a regional service center for the entire Bulkley Valley. Because of this, Smithers offers many more amenities than you would normally see in a town of this size. Smithers is a mixture of a bustling downtown core, historical heritage, and abundance of agriculture, logging and mining. The city's pedestrian-orientated downtown core features a shopping center, independent stores, farmer markets, and numerous restaurants. These businesses help Smithers to continue to develop while still holding on to its heritage feel. From its position in the Bulkley Valley, Smithers is set against the backdrop of the Hudson Bay Mountain to the west and the Babine Mountain range to the east.
Smithers has a newly renovated school for post-graduate education- Northwest Community College. And excellent elementary schools and Smithers Secondary School for high school, all boasting their own lovely grounds. The town also has started construction of a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility which is used for hockey and other such events. But if nature is what you are seeking, Smithers is home to some of the most beautiful parks and trails, including the well-known Malkow Lookout and the Perimeter Trail. With all that Smithers has to offer-fabulous residents and business, acres of wilderness, many farms and ranches, and a thriving arts community-every season is full of wonder and activities.
Smithers offers outstanding outdoor recreational pursuits during all phases of the year. This includes world class steelhead fishing and hunting, downhill and cross-country skiing, golfing, snowmobiling, trail riding, canoeing and kayaking and many more activities too numerous to list. Coupled with a range of urban features such as cultural pursuits and indoor recreation opportunities, Smithers has something for everyone.
When Smithers first sprouted up in 1913 as a divisional point on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, Hudson Bay Mountain was a quiet and impressive sentinel over the growing railroad community. But more than just a picturesque backdrop, the mountain has in many ways shaped this town into what it is today-a thriving community that values outdoor recreation, mountain culture and community life.The community of Smithers was founded in 1913 as the divisional head- quarters of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The community took its name from Sir Alfred Smithers, the chairman of the board of directors of the railway. Alfred Avenue is also named after him. In 1921, Smithers was designated the first incorporated village in British Columbia. Development of local mineral and agricultural resources were encouraged and a steady economic growth was realized. In 1967, Smithers moved from the status of village to incorporated town.
Pioneer settlers made Smithers their home because of the fertile valley soil, its abundant mineral riches and imposing coniferous forests. Later, tourism played an important part of the economic foundation of the area. Following World War Two, many Europeans immigrated to Smithers, notably Dutch and Swiss families.
Smithers today is a vibrant community comprised of First Nations, second and third generation descendents of European settlers, along with new residents from many parts of the globe.
The first non-aboriginal settlers to the Bulkley Valley were fur traders and missionaries in the 1860's. Best known of the missionaries was Father Adrien-Gabriel Morice who arrived in 1892, into the Wet'suwet'en village of Kyah Wiget, meaning Old Town. Father Morice studied the native language and translated prayer books into Carrier. Later the village later became known as Moricetown after Father Morice.
In 1866, the exploration team for the Collins Overland Telegraph line came through, attempting to construct an overland telegraph line connecting North American to Europe and Asia. Through their efforts failed, the trail served as an access route to gold miners heading north. The Bulkley Valley is named for Colonel Charles Bulkley, the Engineer-in-Charge of the survey team.
Little exploration was carried out in this area until 1892 when a provincial government surveying team noted the potential resources of the valley, By then, the old telegraph tail was known as the Dominion Telegraph line, and was being extended to the Yukon.
Gabriel Lacroix became the first non-aboriginal man into what is now the Smithers area, arriving about 1900 to farm on the east side of the Bulkley River. Then, in 1903, the Fred Heal family settled on the east side of Tyhee Lake. In a few years, settlement began in earnest. The now-vanished village of Aldermere was staked in 1904, followed by Telkwa two years later.
The Name Wet'suwet'en (or Witsuwet'en) can be roughly translated as "People of the lower hills". The Wet'suwet'en Nation are from the linguistic Athapaskan family. Their territory surrounds the Bulkley River in the northern interior of British Columbia.The Wet'suwet'en Nation 's territory extends from the village of Hagwilget in the New Hazelton area in the west to Burns Lake in the east. From Moricetown in the north it stretches to Ootsa Lake area in the South. Within this expansive territory there six Wet'suwet'en communities--Hagwilget, Moricetown, Broman Lake, Burns Lake, Skin Tyee and Nee Tahi Buhn and the communities of Smithers, Telkwa, Houston and Burns Lake (not necessarily politically affiliated with the Wet'suwet'en Nation office).
Central to the Wet'suwet'en culture is their traditional system of governance based upon our five clans; Gitdumden (Wolf), Laksamishyu (Fireweed), Tsayu (Beaver), Gilseyhyu (Big Frog) and Laksilyu (Small Frog). Every clan is divided into houses, each comprising of a sort of extended family. There are thirteen Wet'suwet'en houses. Each house has a hereditary chief (the Chief's name is passed on in the line for perpetuity). Usually there are Wing Chiefs (Sub Chiefs) for each House as well.
Every Wet'suwet'en individual is born in a Clan and a House base on matrilineal descent (i.e. through the mother's heritage). The entire Wet'suwet'en system is based upon mutual support and long term relationships. There is currently 5000 Wet'suwet'en members throughout the territory and away from home. For information visit the Office of the Wet'suwet'en.
For more of Smithers long history please visit the Smithers Museum or the Smithers Tourism sites for complete history of Smithers !
Smithers ...Simply Exceptional!