is a town located in northwestern British Columbia
, approximately halfway between Prince George
and Prince Rupert
. Smithers is located in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
With a population of 5,509, Smithers is a service area for most of the Bulkley Valley
The Bulkley Valley
in which Smithers is situated was originally inhabited by the Wet'suwet'en
, an indigenous Carrier
people whose native tongue is of the Athabaskan language family
. Upstream, the Bulkley, a smaller stream running through Houston, and the Morice join just west of Houston. At the point of their joining they become the Bulkley, not the Morice despite the fact the Morice is larger. This was done by Poudrier, a government cartographer whom, it is rumoured, never saw the region.
Smithers was founded in 1913 as the regional headquarters for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
. The new community was named after the railway's chairman of the board of directors, Sir Alfred Smithers
. In 1921, Smithers became the first incorporated village in British Columbia. In 1967, Smithers was incorporated as a town.
The Town was surveyed in 1913 and a street grid pattern was established that is still very much evident today. Historically, intensive development has been oriented towards Main Street as the prime commercial focus with residential development radiating outward from the commercial core. The traditional downtown was punctuated by important civic structures — the (old) Courthouse at the intersection of Main Street with Highway 16
or by community focal points — the Canadian National Railway
station at the western end of Main Street. This pattern has been sustained by the preservation of the old courthouse, with establishment of a major civic park in Central Park, and with the on-going restoration of the CN railway station as a community resource centre.
Smithers and the Bulkley Valley have often been described by non-residents as being distinct from the rest of Northern British Columbia. According to a 1990s survey, per capita, Smithers has 'the most of' in almost every category. Many factors contribute to the composition of society in Smithers, including the arts, environmental protection, and local industries such as forestry and mining.
The theme of the town of Smithers is alpine, which is drawn from the geography of the area. A town bylaw requires businesses in the downtown area centered on Main Street to construct their buildings in an alpine style. A fiberglass statue of a man blowing an alpine horn, commonly referred to as The Alpenman or Alpine Al, is located at the entrance to the main street and has become the town symbol.
Residents of Smithers are called Smithereens which remains a more popularly accepted title than the sometimes used 'Smitherite'.
Smithereens have a particularly strong environmental ethic. In 2006, over 600 Smithereens took to the streets to voice their opposition to a [proposed coalbed methane gas field near Telkwa http://concernedaboutcbm.org], which threatened local water quality, landscape integrity and wild salmon populations.
Smithers and the Bulkley Valley is home to many musicians, including Juno-Award-winning Alexis Puentes and hometown folks hero Mark Perry. The biggest assembly of musical talent happens during the annual Mid-Summer Music festival in late June. Over the years, Mid-Summer music festival has seen some famous acts like Spirit of the West and Barenaked Ladies has drawn audiences and participants from all across North America.
The Della Herman Theatre, named after a long time resident and former school board official, is the primary venue for shows and performances, though several pubs and even open fields serve as secondary performance venues. Numerous organisations including the Bulkley Valley Community Arts Council operate to keep music and other artistic activities vibrant.
The latest census
| Canada 2001 Census
|| British Columbia |
|| 33.3 years
|| 38.4 years |
|Under 15 years old
|| 18% |
|Between 25 and 44 years old
|| 30% |
|Over 65 years old
|| 14% |
|| 21% |
|| 31% |
, taken in 2001, recorded 5,415 residents living in 2,195 households and 1,460 families. Of those over 15 years of age in 2001, 48% were married, slightly lower than the 51% provincial average. With 87% of Smithers residents being Canadian-born, and 88% with an English-only mother tongue, the town has few visible minorities. Though not included as visible minorities, 10% identified themselves as Aboriginal, a higher proportion than the 4% provincial average.
Despite its small population, Smithers has produced several notable professional ice hockey
- Robert Chaplin, artist and publisher
- Graham Roumieu, author and illustrator.
- Gina Holden, actress.
- Joseph L. Coyle, newspaper publisher (The Interior News) and inventor of the egg carton (1911)
- Robin Mathews, b. 1931 in Smithers; a poet, political activist, playwright, teacher, essayist.
- Tobin Frank, a musician with the Canadian band, Spirit of the West comes from Smithers.
- Micah Sicotte, a composer, musician, educator and VP of the Federal Commonwealth Society originates from Smithers.
- Adrian Miles, singer for Solstice (UK band)
- Susan Juby, author of the Alice, I Think series of books, grew up in Smithers.
- Daniel Imhof, professional soccer player at VfL Bochum (Germany).