When you walk around the community of Smithers and bring up the name Art Buchanan to a Smithereen, a smile emerges on their face.
Buchanan is known around the community as a Smithereen through and through.
Although he wasn’t born in Smithers, his life’s work is reflected all around the town.
Buchanan moved to Smithers when he was three years old in 1941, and he has devoted his life to this community ever since.
He can’t imagine living in any other place.
Four-year-old Art Buchanan.
He can tell you what Smithers looked like before Main Street was buzzing with people.
“If you were looking outside on the right-hand side, the ditch went right down. When it froze, let’s say in October, you could skate on the ditch. But you had to go down under the bridge. If you stood up too high you would hit your head, you’ll get lots of bumps. There was a dirt road too, and when it wasn’t raining you could drive or horse ride,” he said.
In 1958 Buchanan started his venture into the business world.
After graduating high school, he decided to go into what he calls “show business.”
“I got out of school in 1958, I remember that plain as day. I graduated and then I went into the show business. There was no theatre on Main Street; my dad helped me get some money and we bought it and I ran it. That’s where Totem Audio is today,” said Buchanan.
But before knowing this was exactly what he wanted, he tested the water at another theatre a few hours away.
Buchanan explained he was offered a job in Quesnel, but being away from his beloved town didn’t last long.
“I was looking for a job; a fellow had owned a theatre in Quesnel and he said I could have a job. So I went to Quesnel and I stayed there for one week. I had enough of Quesnel and I came back to Smithers,” he said with a smile.
His love for the theatre grew.
He decided to purchase a drive-in movie theatre in Evelyn, but quickly moved it to Smithers on Ninteenth Avenue.
He then decided to purchase a building and opened up Roi Theatre.
Roi Theatre circa 1959.
But this wasn’t Buchanan’s only venture in the business world.
He decided after 20 years of working in the show business to start something completely new.
“I owned Ranch Trucking. I was working for myself, so I bought trucks and loaders to do it,” said Buchanan.
He also decided to build a few houses all around Smithers.
This kept Buchanan busy, but seeing people in the community coming to enjoy the films kept him motivated.
“I liked the people; I got along with the people. I think that’s what pulled me through. I have friends older than I am that I see and they still come into the theatre and they’ve been coming forever,” he said.
Smithers has left Buchanan feeling like a superstar.
When asked if he felt famous, he responded by saying, “I guess so, I feel that way I do. No kidding, I do. I have been treated well.”
He explained a time he went to the mall with his sister and was stopped by at least 25 people.
“I had my sister with me and every single person in there I had to talk to and shake hands with. My sister couldn’t believe what was going on, I had to talk to everybody,” he said.
After many years of work, Buchanan decided to slow down four months ago and retire.
He passed down the Roi Theatre to his children and sold his trucking agency.
As of right now, Buchanan is enjoying his retirement with his wife, children and grandchildren and plans on doing nothing but that.
As to where he plans on spending it, there’s no surprise: right here in his hometown.