Ever since Al McCreary came to town in 1976 he has had a connection to the local ski community.
As the treasurer of the town, he was essential in helping to work with the local ski club to improve recreational opportunities in town and form a partnership between them and the town that would be known as the Smithers Ski Club.
He is also the long-time president of the Prairie Cabin Owners Association (COA).
Now McCreary is being recognized for his commitment to the local ski community as this year’s recipient of Hudson Bay Mountain’s Legendary Local award.
The award is given out annually after season passholders are given the chance to vote for who they think should get the award.
It also comes with a free ski pass for the year.
McCreary said that he was surprised to win but happy to be recognized.
“I got a call from the manager [and] he just said, ‘Do you know why I’m calling?’ I said are you reminding me I should buy my season passes and he says, ‘yeah I noticed you haven’t bought it yet but you don’t have to’.”
Recounting his time with the mountain, McCreary said that, after his time as the treasurer, he sat as an advisor to the board of directors for many years and got a chance to see the area through both the bad times and the good times.
He recounts one memory in particular where he and some others were laying towers for a chairlift.
“We set all 24 towers in about 35 minutes, we had a chopper come in, we had one crew at the top parking lot … and we just ran, put two bolts on [each tower] and ran to the next,” he said.
“When we stood at the bottom and looked up and said “oh my [gosh] we have a chairlift it was just incredible.”
McCreary added that he is happy to see the additional improvements made since then, such as improvements to the day lodge and chairlift cable, noting he feels the area will be able to operate for decades to come safely.
But he also said he is just happy to have been able to be a part of it all.
“It’s been a labour of love and it’s been a lot of fun over the years.”