John Currie, second from right, with the staff of Ski Smithers in 1985. From left: Beth Stranga, Kelly Jones, Sherman Jaycox, Leslie Milton, Linda (Allan) Jones, Currie and Diane Stahl. (Beth Stranga photo)

First Ski Smithers manager dies at age 77

John Currie managed the ski hill from 1980 to 1993

The man who was the first Ski Smithers (now Hudson Bay Mountain Resort) manager has died at the age of 77.

John Currie came to Smithers from Grouse Mountain in 1980 with a mandate to transform the community ski area into a ski destination.

“It was no small task,” said long-time friend Al McCreary and Ski Smithers accountant during Currie’s tenure. ” He was charged with building a new chair lift, access road and ski runs on a fixed budget and little room for overruns as all contracts had been awarded.

During his 13 years as manager, Currie and his staff put Ski Smithers on the map as a destination ski area, had an Alcan bus full of skiers arrive every weekend, created a part-time customs office to welcome skiers from Alaska, started the first ski bus to the mountain, hosted many provincial championship races and grew skier visits to 50,000 in a season.

“There was no job he wouldn’t do from parking attendant, liftee, clearing tables, rental shop, packer operator and in his spare time, mountain manager,” McCreary said. “His years at Grouse Mountain served him well, John set the template for the ski area we have today.

“When John was hired, his former employer said, ‘you will never regret hiring John. He was right.”

McCreary also shared some person reminiscences including the smell of onions and burgers from the snow pit as you came off the chairlift; new year parties in the lodge; Saturday afternoon bands in the lounge; moonlight skiing on the T-bar; John packing trails to cabins, ski runs and race runs; and the ski boosters, the on-the-mountain guides.

Currie and his wife Linda, a provincial government forestry employee, moved away from Smithers in the late 1990s eventually settling in Fort St. James.

Following a short battle with cancer, Currie passed away at his home in Fort St. James with Linda and his daughter Kim by his side on June 20.