Smithers is half way between Prince George and Prince Rupert and was developed as a main railroad stop and maintenance facility. The spectacular setting has attracted a lot of urban refugees, who live in Smithers and telecommute to the big cities in the South. We were also surprised to learn that there are a number of BC companies with their head office or start in Smithers including Sandman Inn, Central Mountain Air, and Bandstra Transportation Systems.
The downtown area in Smithers retains the original look of the century old town, and is backdropped by Hudson Bay mountain. There is an eclectic mix of restaurants, bakeries, outdoor stores and general clothing stores in along the Main street in the downtown that reflected a much more sophisticated palate and style than we would expect in a small rural town.
We visited the Bulkley Valley museum to learn more about the history of Smithers, and met with some of the staff including some of the urban refugees mentioned above. Smithers is a regional hub for the Bulkley Valley, and has more services than one would expect to find in a town with 6000 people, including 54 car dealerships, regional health center and airport with direct flights to Vancouver and Calgary as well as smaller centers nearby.
After doing a bit of shopping, we had lunch at one of the alpine themed bakeries, and then headed out to the do a short hike at the base of the mountain to see a waterfall. Unfortunately, the heavy cloud cover almost obscured the waterfall, but it was a nice chance to stretch our legs and breathe in some fresh mountain air.