Smithers, BC
Demographic Factsheet:

Population of Town of Smithers : 5224
(based on 2006 Census figures)
Rural Electoral District A: 5400
Trading Area Population: 20,000
Labour Force: 11,470
Median family income $64,460
Average family income $69,931
Standard error of average family income $2,335
Smithers is located on the Bulkley River, at the base of the Hudson Bay Mountain in central British Columbia, at the approximate midpoint between Prince Rupert and Prince George on the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway. It is a diverse community which, as a consequence of its placement, serves as the regional administrative centre for the Bulkley Valley region. About 20,000 people live in the surrounding area and rural communities, and close to 6,ooo live in the town of Smithers.
Taking its name from Sir Alfred Waldron Smithers, a former chairman of the board of directors of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, Smithers was founded in 1913, the same year the settlement became the divisional headquarters of the Railway. Prior to the arrival of non-aboriginal settlers, the Wet'suwet'en First Nations people inhabited the region encompassing Bulkley Valley. The area was sparsely populated by fur traders and missionaries from 1860, but little activity was carried out until the completion of the railway into the subsequent century, which only began in earnest in 1905. In the interim, an attempt to construct an overland telegraph line joining North America to Europe and Asia, despite proving a lack of success, created a pass through the region that was brought to service as a means of access to gold miners venturing north. The Dominion Telegraph line, as it became known, would eventually extend to the Yukon.
In 1892, a provincial government surveying team noted the potential resource value of the Bulkley Valley; its fecund soil, its ample mineral riches and boundless coniferous forests became a lure for settlers. Industry began to flourish as the development of agriculture, mineral mining and forestry was spurred on. In 1921 Smithers became the first incorporated village in BC as pioneers continued to populate the territory that surrounds the Bulkley River. Since then, other major industries such as provincial and federal services, conservation authorities and the Railway also became major employers.
The latter half of the 20th century brought with it the construction of roadways and schools, and in 1967 Smithers changed its status to a town. The striking landscape of Smithers is a boon to its now thriving mountain culture and community life. In recent years it has became an attraction for individuals and families seeking outdoor recreation pursuits, as well as a bedrock for civil servants and even small high-tech ventures. An accessible glacier on nearby Hudson Bay Mountain as well as grand vistas of the Babine and Telkwa Mountain Ranges draw many tourists throughout the year, shifting the town’s economic foundation. Smithers has espoused an alpine theme evocative of the many Dutch and Swiss families who immigrated to the area in the years following the end of the Second World War; red brick sidewalks and alpine style rooflines were added to Main Street, downtown, in 1979. Smithers has become a self-branded “mountain town” home to “fishing and hunting, downhill and cross-country skiing, golfing, snowmobiling, canoeing and kayaking”. In 2004, Northwest Community College opened a campus in Smithers; the School of Exploration and Mining.

Dr. Leith Deacon PhD