Colourful history and beautiful surroundings inspire a Smithers author

Sheila Peters hikes the mountains in the summer and straps on the snowshoes in the winter


Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park near Smithers is not only an amazing destination with samples of ancient fossils for visitors to enjoy. It has also been a source of inspiration to local author Sheila Peters. One of her poems is actually on display in the park, along with a painting by a local visual artist Perry Rath.

Peters grew up in Powell River, thinking there wasn’t anywhere else in Canada she would want to live, but quickly changed her mind after falling in love with Smithers. Because it is a small town, Smithers offers its residents opportunity to meet a diversity of people with different backgrounds, religious beliefs, politics and interests, which makes it extremely interesting. Smithers, though a popular tourist destination, isn’t perfect and Peters’ writing is sometimes triggered by that complexity of the dynamics of a small town.

Travelling the nearby route between Telkwa and Moricetown, a visitor may not be aware of the events that took place here almost 100 years ago. Canyon Creek: A Script, a creative nonfiction story by Peters, tells the story of the 1920s eviction of a Wet’suwet’en family from their home site near Smithers.

“I know it sounds corny, but I am also inspired by the local landscape” said Peters. “I love winter and I enjoy the outdoors, so it’s a very good place to be.”

Peters has learned over the years to recognize plants and study animal behaviours and uses that knowledge and interest in her writing. She hikes the mountains in the summer and snowshoes in the winter.

Smithers has been advertised as a paddler’s dream, where canoeists, kayakers or river rafters can all find an interesting water source. There is everything available, from scenic lakes to quiet little streams to rapids that will thrill the most avid enthusiast.

It’s possible to spend the morning clinging to the side of a raft as it races over a set of raging rapids and the afternoon browsing a local museum viewing the appealing historic exhibits or taking a stroll along one of the town’s out-of-the-ordinary streets influenced by the Dutch immigrants who settled here after the Second World War. Stop for coffee at Mountain Eagle Books, known as the community hub, and purchase one of Peters’ books.

With Hudson Bay Mountain to the west of Smithers and the Babine mountain range to the east, the town has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing are enjoyed in the winter, while boating, fishing, golfing, hiking and just experiencing nature are enjoyed during the other distinct seasons.

The people of Smithers are an interesting mix and overall very friendly and welcoming. Their history is colourful and their surroundings are beautiful. There’s something here for everyone any time of the year.

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