Hello Smithers! I am so glad to be back in the Bulkley Valley, and eager to tell your stories.
Unlikely as it may seem to friends in Vancouver and Toronto, this place is rich in news.
Take last Thursday—in the early morning, I drove my trusty Tercel down to a Canfor rail line where an agrologist and her crew were swinging pick-axes at invasive plants.
By noon, I was writing a profile on the hot-rodder behind the Houston Drag Races—a mechanic who this year built up a mini dragster for his 8-year-old granddaughter to race.
And by sunset I was squished against a stage at the Smithers Fairgrounds, snapping photos as a totally rocking and totally pregnant Rachelle Van Zanten opened for Sam Roberts and The Trews.
What a day! I even got paid to take notes.
Like a lot of wannabe reporters, I got the idea reading George Orwell and admiring street photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson.
I’m a long, long way from Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, but I can proudly say I’ve followed him in one respect—we’ve both been professional dishwashers.
I scrubbed $50-a-plate plates in an Edinburgh restaurant the year I lived there to study politics and odd-sounding Scottish poetry. I gave it up by the time I enrolled in journalism at a Vancouver college, as any of my former housemates can attest.
This is my third time in Smithers, and the first where I won’t be cherry-picking the summer months. I helped run the park at Tyhee Lake one spring and summer, chasing bears and teenagers out of my front yard.
Last year I met a few of you when I reported here as a summer intern. In six short weeks, I covered a land claims case, the community forest project, forest fires and business stories—news on what makes a place tick.
As a young reporter, those are the kind of high-stakes stories I want to get right.
But when I tell faraway friends about life here, it’s the other stories, the community features, that I remember—like shooting shaky video inside Mike Kwan’s champion mud bogs truck in Moricetown, nearly hitting the car roof when he fired the 400-horsepower nitros.
I look forward to meeting more of you, and my first Smithers snow season, in the months ahead. If you see a tall, slightly lost-looking fellow with a notepad, stop by and say hello.