The original inhabitants of the Bulkley Valley are the Wet'suwet'en First Nations, the "People of the Lower Hills."
Traditional Wet'suwet'en culture upholds respect for other people, the land, animals and the law.
Wet'suwet'en's First Nations
The Wet'suwet'en's traditional territory covers approximately 22,000 kilometres squared. Archaeological evidence shows they have been in the Bulkley Valley for at least 6,000 years.
These First Nations people and their culture are still very much a part of Smithers and area. Many live in Moricetown, about 30 kilometres west of Smithers along Highway 16; approximately 13% of Smithers' population is Aboriginal.
Fur traders and then missionaries arrived in the valley in the mid-1800s. Soon after, in 1866, an exploration team headed by engineer Colonel Charles Bulkley arrived. The team intended to build a telegraph line connecting North America and Asia. The mission failed but the valley was still named after the team's leader. Gold miners heading north eventually used the trail.
Gabriel Lacroix, a farmer, was the first Caucasian person to settle in the area, around 1900. A few years later, the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in Northern BC and the discovery of large mineral deposits caused Smithers to grow. On October 12, 1921, the town became British Columbia's first incorporated village. Forty-four years later it became a town. A large part of the town's initial population was of Scandinavian descent, hence the town's current alpine theme.
Smithers is named after Sir Alfred Waldron Smithers, the chairman of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Board of Directors, after the company appointed Smithers as the railway's divisional headquarters.
Today, the town is friendly and safe. Its residents are proud of where they live and want to share their home and all it has to offer with visitors. Smithereens are mellow yet engaged and passionate about the outdoors, sports and the arts.
The town's main industries are still mining and agriculture, and more recently tourism; the town's alpine theme is meant to attract visitors.
The Bulkley Valley Museum, located in Smithers' former courthouse, is a great place to discover more about the history of Smithers.
Moricetown and Telkwa
A visit to Moricetown and the band's interpretive centre, near Moricetown Canyon, teaches travellers about the Wet'suwet'en. Telkwa also has an informative historical walking tour. Information is available at the Smithers Visitor Centre.