Day 1

Northwest BC Road Trip

When Hannah moved from the UK to BC with her family six years ago they had always intended to explore the province widely. Join her and her husband, Tom, as they head to Northern BC in search of the region’s best golf, brews, trails and cultural experiences. 

The remote lakes, mountains, and little old mining towns called to us, and indeed, we did manage to cover a lot of BC in the first few years of being here. Then COVID hit and we had to stay in the Interior before we’d had a chance to venture to the northern parts of the province. After a chance meeting with the Smithers Brewing team at a beer festival in Penticton we looked at a map to plan a trip there but were put off by how far away it looked. A reasonable 11-hour drive for Canadians, perhaps, but it sounded way too far for us when our frame of reference is UK distances. Yes, it may be far in kilometres, but quick, affordable, non-stop flights from Kelowna to Prince George make the journey an easy hop. So, we waved goodbye to the dogs, packed our bags, and set off on a northern BC adventure.

Day 2

Exploring Prince George

Our flight arrived in Prince George in the late morning, so after checking in at the centrally located Ramada Plaza and grabbing a bite to eat, we had the afternoon to explore. 

A beautiful sunny day called for a leisurely stroll through one of the many parks in and around the town, and we picked Cottonwood Island Nature Park. This tranquil 32-hectare park stretches along the banks of the Nechako River, and, as the cottonwoods cast a welcome dappled shade over the trails, it was the perfect place to escape the heat for a while. The park is home to a multitude of wood carvings by local artist Elmer Gunderson and we had fun trying to spot the whimsical characters carved into the trees.

We spent a very relaxing hour exploring this peaceful park, but time was marching on and we had a date with a golf driving range to make, so we bid farewell to the squirrels and made our way to the Alder Hills Golf Course.

Cottonwood Island Nature Park in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Alder Hills has recently installed new technology at their outdoor driving range: the latest Toptracer technology tracks your shots, allowing you to watch the virtual ball flight on an adjacent screen. I must admit that I’m not always the best at practising, unlike my husband Tom, who would happily hit balls on the range all day. I have less patience and would rather just get going at the real thing (that might explain why he’s so much better at the sport than me) but this technology certainly made practice much more fun. And for a golf-mad, data-driven, self-confessed science nerd like Tom, this was heaven. You can even hit real balls on the range while playing a virtual round on the screen at dozens of famous courses around the world, so we could pretend that we were on a pro tour. Even our 15-year-old non-golfer son enjoyed seeing how far he could hit the ball (and beat his poor mom), proving that this truly is a great family activity.

Alder Hills Golf Course in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Next on the agenda was the Love Local Night Market, a popular, bustling affair with live music, local vendors, and a wide variety of food trucks. After all that activity our stomachs were rumbling, and the market gave us plenty of options, including Jamaican food, Bannock, as well as the more usual burgers and poutine, and even a mobile bar called Worth A Shot that was serving “mocktails.” The vendors’ stalls were of exceptionally high quality and displayed a wide array of local craftsmanship, from jewelry and soaps to ceramics and boutique clothing.

I have a weakness for handcrafted earrings, and predictably couldn’t leave without buying some beautiful drop earrings from Fireweed and Whimsy. It was the perfect summer evening for ambling around the market, enjoying the live music, and sipping on a mocktail…. But we had a brewery to get to.

Local Love Night Market in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Feeling rather exhausted after an early start and a busy day we thought we’d just pop into Deadfall Brewing to sample a quick flight before having an early night. Little did we know what Prince George’s newest brewery had in store for us!

It’s not often that you step foot into a brewery for the first time only to be instantly separated from your partner and thrust straight into a trivia night where the teams are mixed and change with each round, but that’s exactly what happened to us at Deadfall. Chatting with brewery owner and head brewer Brandon during a lively music round, he explained that they didn’t want the same old trivia night where the same team wins week after week, so they thought they’d mix it up. This cross between trivia and musical chairs means that everyone gets a chance to win free beer each round (which Tom and I both did on different rounds) and meet new people, and I have to say, I wholeheartedly approve of this format. We had an absolute blast, and it gave us the opportunity to chat with so many people from different walks of life: a couple with their four-month-old son, visitors from as far as the U.S. and South Africa, locals, and a few who had come alone, knowing that they would find a friendly face at this brewery.

Deadfall Brewing in Prince George, BC

Brandon told me that when they were establishing Deadfall a year ago, they had wanted to create a space that was akin to going to a friend’s sitting room – comfortable and welcoming. Well, they have achieved that and then some. But while the atmosphere was all fun (where else do you find a canning machine named Ryan Gosling?), the décor is grown up and stylish, and the beer is serious business. Three of the four owners of Deadfall have PhDs in biology and this science background is reflected in the brewery: the name of the brewery and the beers are all based in biology, and Brandon’s understanding and mastery of the microbiological processes of brewing has taken a lot of the guesswork out of the process, resulting in a sophisticated array of beers. Tom and I had a flight each and so sampled all the beers on tap, and they were all superb – confident and well crafted. Tom’s favourite was the Succession NEIPA with its juicy, tropical flavours, while I was very taken with the crisp Cache Kolsch. We had had such a fun evening at Deadfall that all plans of an early night were long forgotten, but with the knowledge of a busy day ahead of us, we eventually dragged ourselves away.

Deadfall Brewing in Prince George, BC

Editor’s note: Deadfall Brewing was named the 2023 Canada Beer Cup Champion for their Basal Brown Ale, which also won Gold in the American Style Brown Ale category. Read more about the awards and other BC winners on the blog.

Day 3

Golfing and Shopping in Prince George

Thursday began with a cup of tea in bed watching the first day of The Open at the Royal Liverpool golf course. I was excited to see that the very same Toptracer technology we had been using the day before was being used by the TV channels covering this golf championship. Now convinced that I was “on par” with the pros, I was keen to put my skills to the test on one of Prince George’s four golf courses, but first, we needed to fuel up for a day on the course.

Aubree’s Breakfast Place came highly recommended, and for good reason. This cheery breakfast diner offered fast, friendly service and free-flowing coffee (a definite necessity after our inadvertent late night). The eggs benny was just what we needed to fill our bellies for our first round of golf of the trip.

Aubree's Breakfast Place in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

As we arrived at the stunning Aberdeen Glen Golf Club, a group of youngsters were gathering on a pristine putting green for the Junior Camp, a week-long camp held each week throughout the summer, and the ladies running the Pro Shop were both extremely welcoming and knowledgeable. There were certainly no traditional stereotypes here, and the atmosphere was friendly, inclusive, and encouraging. We met our playing partners Dennis and Declan having a few practice shots before teeing off. Both are Prince George locals who play regularly at several of the golf clubs in town, so were able to guide us around the course expertly. They had advised us to hire a cart, and although we usually like to walk the course, this one is long with some steep terrain. It’s the hills that make this course such fun to play for all abilities, providing a good level of challenge for the more advanced golfer with the wide fairways being forgiving to the novice player (which was good news for me). Teeing off on the first is always daunting on a new course, so it was a relief that neither Tom nor I disgraced ourselves straight away, and after that initial nerve-wracking hit, the game and conversation flowed easily.

It is no exaggeration to say that Aberdeen Glen was one of the best courses that we have ever played. The course was in immaculate condition and the greens were all a vivid green and manicured to perfection. The level of technicality, stunning scenery, and quality of the grounds make this course hard to beat.

Aberdeen Glen Golf Course in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

After a quick shower and change back at the hotel, we popped across the road for a late lunch at Crossroads Brewing and Distilling. We had heard great things about Prince George’s first craft brewery, and from what we had seen as we passed by the packed patio the previous night, this downtown brewery is certainly popular. The brewery and distillery is located in a 75-year-old historic building and is an impressive space. Huge garage-style doors opened out onto a large patio, giving it a light and airy feeling, while the outdoor area was brightened with an abundance of colourful hanging baskets.

CrossRoads Brewing in Prince George, BC

Crossroads has its own wood-fired pizza oven right next to the bar area, and as we watched the chef creating what looked like pizza perfection we decided that it would be rude not to try one. Let’s face it, there’s no better food pairing for beer. Pizzas ordered, we got down to the serious business of beer tasting. We had actually already tried the Clearcut Lager earlier in the day at the golf course (well, how could we resist a refreshing, ice cold beer being delivered to us on the back of a golf cart, mid-round?) and it was the perfect thirst-quencher on a hot day: crisp and light but with plenty of flavour.

Back in the brewery, the lager continued to be a crowd pleaser, as did the Cloud 9 Witbier which was a faithful Belgian-style wit: soft and refreshing, ideal on a sunny summer patio. Once we’d finished our pizzas (which we can confirm lived up to the hype) we were lucky enough to be invited for a sneak peek behind the scenes, where head brewer Tyson was crafting his next IPA. Our timing was perfect to see a batch of hops being added to the brew, and the malty, hoppy aromas were a beer-lovers dream.

CrossRoads Brewing in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Crossroads Brewing is clearly a thriving community component of the downtown core of Prince George, and we were keen to see more of this area, so we set off on foot to explore. Two Rivers Gallery is a stone’s throw from the brewery, and as we walked past numerous murals and sculptures, it became apparent that art is at the heart of this town, and Two Rivers is a hub of creativity. It’s a strikingly beautiful building, with curved walls that arch into the sky. Unfortunately, the main exhibition was in the process of being installed while we were there, but we were able to see some of the impressive community art on display, and some thought-provoking sculptures in and around the building.  

Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Just a few streets away we found ourselves in the heart of the shopping district. There were a few bijou boutiques here, including Sisters Rock‘n Gems Gallery, a quirky gemstone store housed in a pretty heritage home, and Homespun Refillery, which smelled heavenly (the staff there told us that people pop in on their lunch breaks just for a little aroma-therapy).

Homespun Refillery in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Next stop was Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park on the banks of the Fraser River. This is the city’s largest park, covering over 65 acres with beautifully maintained lawns. Pathways meander around the lawns and viewing benches offer scenic panoramas of the river. The communal areas were thronging with happy families and groups of children enjoying their summer break, but there is enough space to find quiet solitude too. The park is situated on the site of a former Lheidli Village and contains a cemetery for the Lheidli T’enneh. We paused for a moment at the entrance to the cemetery to read the honest account of the history of the city and its first inhabitants, and to reflect on the treatment of these First People. A little further along the pathways, we came across a cluster of heritage buildings, a museum, and a little railway. The train was getting ready to depart as we approached, and although I couldn’t persuade our teenager to join the small children on board, he was happy to have a look around the adjacent museum with me instead. The Exploration Place is an eclectic little museum with something for everyone. As we entered, we were immediately impressed with the huge replica skulls and skeletons of various dinosaurs, and a little further into the building I was captivated by a permanent exhibit showcasing the culture and history of the Lheidli T’eenah First Nation, and an in-depth temporary exhibition on Women in War.

Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine

A day in the hot sun was thirsty work, and we had one more Prince George brewery to check off our list, so it seemed only sensible that we should have dinner at Trench Brewing & Distilling. Located on an industrial estate, it initially seemed an unlikely spot to find a delicious meal, but as we entered the building, we discovered a cool, urban tasting room that wouldn’t look out of place in Vancouver. The long communal tables were filling with jovial folks gathering to share a beer, and a band was beginning to set up. Trench boasts its own smoker and the plates of smoked meat coming from the kitchen certainly perked up our son. This is definitely a meat eater’s paradise (our son confirmed that his smoked beef dip was out of this world), but the vegetarians among us were equally thrilled by delicious kimchi tofu tacos which demonstrated that there is an imaginative chef behind the scenes. The beers were similarly on point, particularly the Pine Pass Pale Ale, a hop-forward ale with notes of citrus and pine, and the New England-style Fang IPA, which had all those juicy NEIPA flavours of mango and pineapple. Trench is clearly a confident and well-established brewery with a loyal fan base, yet it does not rest on its laurels. Chatting with the staff there we were told that the brewery has ambitious plans to extend the kitchen, so this is a brewery to watch.

Trench Brewing and Distilling in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

On our way back to the hotel we stopped in at Crossroads Brewing for a nightcap (having not had a chance to try their vodka cocktails earlier in the day). This being our first time in Prince George, you can imagine our surprise as we heard our names being called enthusiastically across the taproom as we arrived. It was some of the quizzers we had met at the musical chair trivia at Deadfall the night before. We’d only been in the city for 24 hours, but as we sat down with our new friends, we already felt like part of the family here.

Day 4

Prince George to Terrace

Friday was scheduled to be our long 7-hour drive from Prince George to Terrace, so we definitely needed caffeine and tasty provisions to fortify us for the journey. 

We had been told about a great coffee shop just north of the city, so we thought we’d check it out before leaving. The Open Door Café is a little gem with its funky urban interior, excellent coffee, and tasty baked goods. It even had a small selection of locally made jewellery, crafts and art for me to peruse while we waited. Fully stocked with pastries and coffee, we cranked up the tunes and hit the highway.

Open Door Cafe in Prince George, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Highway 16 took us through farmland dotted with cattle ranches to forested hills and finally to dramatic mountain landscapes. We spotted four bears (including two very cute cubs who watched us from their vantage point at the top of a tree) and numerous deer before arriving at Kitselas Canyon, a few minutes east of Terrace. Located on the banks of the mighty River Skeena, Kitselas Canyon is a National Historic Site of Canada, encompassing 5,000 years of Indigenous history and containing the remains of two fortified Indigenous villages.

On arriving at the canyon, we were met by extremely welcoming staff who were happy to show us around the longhouses and the exhibits within. We were shown carefully recreated models of the steamboats that once travelled the Skeena River, artifacts from the Indigenous villages that once guarded the waters, and artworks created by the Ts’msyen people. Pathways led from this main meeting area to a vantage point overlooking the canyon, so we followed the trail through a moss-carpeted forest to the river below.

Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site (photo: Hannah Irvine)

After visiting this awe-inspiring site, we drove into Terrace, where we enjoyed a hearty dinner at Don Diego’s, a lively Mexican restaurant in the centre of town, before heading to Terrace’s only brewery, Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse.

Don Diego's Restaurant in Terrace, BC (photo: Hannah Irivine)

This large brewery is actually a building in three parts: a taproom, Beer Shoppe, and music hall. Sherwood Mountain is obviously a social hub for the community, known and admired as much for its thriving music scene and welcoming atmosphere as it is for its beer. The music hall hosts live music every weekend, and the tap room holds a weekly open mic night, game nights, Arts and Drafts events, and even mother-and-baby social gatherings. Not that the beer plays second fiddle. We’ve always thought that the secret to a successful brewery is to make a wide range of beers so that there’s something for everyone, and it seems that Sherwood Mountain is doing exactly that. 

Sherwood’s head brewer spent some time honing his craft in Munich, and the German influence was evident in the beers on offer: there was a wide selection of lagers on tap, which was perfect for the summer season and certainly appealed to my palate. Each of the lagers was different and packed with flavour, from the crisp, fresh Friar House Lager to the hoppier Coast Mountain Pilsner. The hop-heads hadn’t been forgotten either, and Tom particularly enjoyed Parker’s IPA, an assertive IPA bursting with fruity hop flavours. The long, shared tables and sociable vibe of the taproom meant that we quickly got chatting with some of the regulars, many of whom proudly showed off their beer mugs — Sherwood Mountain has a Mug Club for their regulars who all get a unique mug, created by a local potter.


Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse in Terrace, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Later in the evening, we joined the crowds pouring into the music hall to check out this week’s bands. Sherwood Mountain feels like a British-style “local,” where visitors and regulars will always be welcome to pull up a chair and share a beer, and we loved it. We simply couldn’t leave without buying some of the great merch on offer in the Beer Shoppe, and armed with hoodies and hats we finally bid Sherwood goodnight. Luckily, our hotel The Quality Inn Sunshine Suites was conveniently situated right next door to the brewery so it wasn’t long before we were drifting off to sleep in a luxurious bed.

Day 5

Terrace to Smithers

After another later-than-intended (but oh so much fun) night, we needed a good breakfast to revive us. 

We strolled into Terrace town centre to the Bear Country Inn. This great breakfast joint is clearly popular with the locals, and an array of people were enjoying the generous portions and convivial atmosphere. The poached eggs were cooked to perfection and the crispy hash browns were just what the doctor ordered.

Appetites sated, we had a bit of time before the Saturday Skeena Valley Farmers’ Market opened, so we took the opportunity to explore the downtown. Terrace is an artistic community, and the scale and quality of the many murals around the town really blew us away. The murals focus on the natural environment of Northwest BC and celebrate Terrace’s sense of place and identity, and each displayed a strong sense of pride in the local community.

Murals around downtown Terrace, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

The Farmers’ Market also displayed the creativity of the locals here. We had a good mooch around, listening to the live music and admiring the handicrafts, delicious-looking bread, and the bountiful stacks of fruit and vegetables on offer.

Coffee rarely far from our minds, Tom had spied a unique spot earlier in the day, so we left the market and set out to The Fix Café & Cyclery for our fix of caffeine. It had once been a dream of Tom’s to run a cyclist coffee shop (coffee and cycling being passions of his – add a brewery to the mix, and I’d have never persuaded him to leave) so we were keen to visit this one. This little café is a hidden gem in a rather industrial part of Terrace. It’s obviously a well-known secret, though, as it was packed. A group of mums and young children tucked into the biggest cinnamon buns I’ve ever seen, a group of older ladies were rehydrating with green teas and chai after their yoga session, and numerous hikers and bikers were carb-loading before hitting the trails. 

Skeena Valley Farmers Market in Terrace, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

The history geek in me can never resist a trip to the museum of whatever town we’re visiting so I dragged the boys away from the fancy bikes and cycling gear and on to Terrace Heritage Park Museum. This was a last-minute addition to our itinerary, but we were so pleased to have squeezed it in. A selection of heritage buildings have been lovingly recreated to give a taste of pioneer life in Terrace, with the interiors of each building reflecting life at the turn of the twentieth century. The museum is beautifully maintained and skillfully curated. We explored the park for a good hour and could have stayed chatting with the friendly volunteer at the gate for quite some time, but storm clouds were gathering, and we wanted to fit in a hike before we left for Smithers that afternoon.

Heritage Park Museum in Terrace, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

By the time we got to the trailhead the rain was torrential, but coming from Northern England ourselves, we’re not easily put off by a bit of bad weather, so we donned our waterproofs and set off on one of the city’s many hiking and biking trails.

We were in search of the famous Terrace Wolfpack – no, not a real wolf pack, but a sculpture by Terrace-based artist Steve Rogers that lives on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Skeena Valley. The sculpture is only 15 minutes along the trail, but the grey metal sculptures melted into the grey, rainy skies and were so well camouflaged that we missed them on our way up the mountain. We were determined to find the wolves, though, and were rewarded for our efforts on the way back down the trail when Tom spotted the haunting silhouettes against a spectacular backdrop. The wolves really are magnificent and worth the challenge of finding them. Though we were pretty soaked by this point, the moody skies added to the experience, making the pack and the valley beyond even more dramatic and atmospheric.

We must have made a comical sight as we dripped our way post-hike into the Hot House Restaurant for lunch, but the fabulously spicy fare on offer at this Indian restaurant certainly did the trick in warming us up.

Wolfpack Sculpture by Steve Rogers on the Terrace Mountain Trail, Terrace, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

The clouds lifted and the rain eased as we left Terrace and drove east towards Smithers, giving us glimpses of vast mountain peaks and the wide Bulkley River snaking its way to the coast. This stunning drive is dotted with interesting heritage buildings and dramatic viewpoints, so we made numerous stops to admire the scenery and take photos. One stop where we lingered a little longer was the Ksan Historical Village and Museum. This Indigenous-curated museum resides near the ancient village of Gitanmaax at the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers. A series of longhouses, decorated with Indigenous art and flanked by totem poles, house fascinating exhibits that explore the culture and history of the Gitxsan people, in addition to an artist studio and communal dining room for the Gitxsan community.

Ksan Historical Village in Hazelton, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Once we’d arrived in Smithers and checked into our large and comfortable room at the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge, it was time for dinner and a trip to the first of two breweries in the town. We met a group of friends in Telly’s Grill just in time to savour some excellent cocktails before our entrees arrived. This wood-panelled Mediterranean restaurant was cozy and inviting, with a relaxed environment and extremely friendly staff. The owner is of Greek heritage, which was evident in the menu: the Greek dishes, such as the wonderful spanakopita that I ordered, were authentic and delicious, and all plates were enthusiastically emptied. The restaurant is right next door to Smithers Brewing, so once the cocktail glasses were empty and the plates cleared, we popped next door with head brewer and brewery partner Cam McKeigan.

The Smithers Brewing Company building is a beautiful, purpose-built homage to local craftspeople and the town’s surroundings. The timber frame, built using locally sourced and milled wood, echoes Smithers’ natural environment, while the vast garage doors open onto a patio with stunning views of the nearby Hudson Bay Mountain. Inside, the taproom was light and inviting, with a diverse and stylish crowd creating a lively atmosphere.

We were keen to try each of the nine beers on tap (there is also a cider, kombucha, and even a nitro cold-brew coffee on tap) and Cam was more than happy to introduce us to the beers, which he did with the enthusiasm of a proud father. The range of beers on offer was extremely impressive and provided something for everyone. With it being the height of summer, there were more light beers and ales on tap than would be seen in the winter, but there was also a stout and a punchy ISA. Tom and I were both excited to see a Marzen lager on the tap list – we both love this German beer, but it’s still quite unusual to see it in BC – and we were not disappointed. It was malty with toasted bread flavours: in short… divine. The Sunset Summer Ale was another highlight; this Belgian-style farmhouse ale had the distinctive Saison flavours of bubblegum, banana, and cloves. 

Smithers Brewing Company in Smithers, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

It was clear that Cam is a very skilled brewer; each beer is faithful to its style, but he is confident enough to experiment by taking traditional recipes and giving them a local “Smithers” flair. His dedication to sourcing local produce is evident, including honey from a nearby honey farm used in the Sunset Summer Ale and local haskap berries used in the barrel-aged sour. The most extraordinary ingredient was used in his Son of A Birch Pilsner, made from birch sap rather than regular water (because… well, why not?). The hours flew by as we discussed wild yeasts, pilsners, history teaching (Cam and I are both ex-history teachers), and obscure British comedy shows. We all stayed up way past our bedtimes (this was becoming something of a theme for this trip!) but with sincere promises to return soon, we bid farewell and returned to our hotel.

Smithers Brewing Company in Smithers, BC

Day 6

Golfing & Exploring Smithers

We awoke to atmospheric mist carpeting the valley, and after breakfasting on piles of hot buttered toast and numerous mugs of coffee at the hotel restaurant, Noir Kitchen, we made our way the short distance across town to the Smithers Golf and Country Club.

This picture-perfect golf course stretches along the valley floor, surrounded on all sides by dramatic mountain ranges. We chose to walk this course so we could fully appreciate the craggy red peaks rising out of the low-lying clouds, and as the morning progressed and the sun burned away the clouds, we were rewarded with a spectacular setting. The club had a welcoming, relaxed vibe, while the course itself was well-maintained and featured gentle rolling hills, mature trees, and a creek winding its way between the fairways.

Smithers Golf and Country Club in Smithers, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

We were reluctant to leave such a beautiful spot, so we followed the round of golf with lunch at the golf course restaurant, Mulligan’s. The restaurant has a patio that wraps around the clubhouse, offering great views of Hudson Bay Mountain, so we sat having lunch in the dappled sunshine admiring the view and watching the (mis)fortunes of the other players tackling a very difficult pin position on the adjacent 9th green.

Mulligan's Restaurant at Smithers Golf and Country Club in Smithers, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

The previous night we had had the good fortune to meet Gladys Atrill, lifelong “Smithereen” and the current mayor, who had kindly offered to give us a personal tour of downtown Smithers. We met Gladys at the beautiful historic Central Park Building that now houses the town’s museum and art gallery, and were guided around the downtown area, with notable heritage buildings and cultural highlights being pointed out en route. The stunning murals on many of the buildings, the beautiful art gallery building, and the community radio housed in an old train carriage in the centre of town were all testament to the rich arts and music scene in Smithers.

As we strolled together down the pretty alpine-inspired streets, festooned with flags and hanging baskets, it also became clear just how important community is to this little town. Gladys knew many of the residents by name and chatted amicably with each passerby. That is the sort of place that Smithers seems to be: a friendly town with a strong sense of community where people want to stay. She told us about some of the family-owned stores that have been in the town for generations, such as Paul’s Bakery and The Sausage Factory, which are part of the fabric of Smithers life. There were none of the global corporations and big box names; instead, the streets were lined with unique independent shops and restaurants.

One such shop was Heartstrings Home Décor and Gifts, which was an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures. They also sold the most heavenly candied nuts, and Gladys wouldn’t let us leave without treating us to a few bags of these tasty treats.

A brightly coloured mural of grammy award winner Alex Cuba in his hometown of Smithers, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Wanting to see a little more of the area surrounding the town, we said goodbye to our generous tour guide, hopped in the car, and drove to the nearby village of Telkwa which nestles on the banks of the Bulkley and Telkwa Rivers. Gladys had recommended a popular ice cream parlour there, so we treated ourselves to a cone and strolled along the riverside walkway, which was lined with artist studios, heritage buildings, and pretty wooden cottages with cottage gardens.

From Telkwa it was a short hop to Tyhee Lake Provincial Park, where groups of families were enjoying the sunshine together, swimming in the lake, paddleboarding and playing volleyball. Rather than taking the highway back to town, we decided to take the scenic Telkwa High Road and were rewarded with wonderful panoramic views of the valley. The land here had a more agricultural feel and was very reminiscent of the high meadows seen in the Austrian Alps.

Riverside walkway in Telkwa (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Dinner for our final night was at the upscale Roadhouse in the heart of Smithers. I stumbled upon this restaurant while Googling Smithers’ eateries, and I was excited to try it. The interior was chic and modern, with large contemporary artwork on the otherwise minimalist walls, and a central bar stocked with a dizzying array of spirits, hinting at a creative cocktail menu. I wasn’t wrong about that — cocktails are certainly a specialty here, and the Rocket Man, a rhubarb-and-ginger gin creation that I finally selected from the extensive list was out of this world. The food was similarly superb, and my Moroccan Flatbread with marinated portobello mushrooms, feta and a Moroccan sauce topping a cauliflower flatbread was delicious.

The Roadhouse in Smithers, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

We couldn’t end our trip without a visit to the final brewery on our checklist, so once we had eaten our fill, we popped over to the Bulkley Valley Brewery. This brewery had initially started life as a ski shop, and the evidence of winter sports was everywhere, from the tap list made from old skis to the snowboards decorating the walls. This is a quirky little brewery with a fun, eccentric vibe and a similarly eclectic range of beers.

Tom and I shared a flight of beers, which ranged from an Italian Plum hard iced tea to a candied orange sour. The highlight was the Sasquatch Pale Ale, and although we were intrigued by the 15.6% ABV Pit of Death, neither of us was brave enough to try it – it even comes with its own warning! The cozy little taproom was a warm and comfortable place to while away a rainy Sunday evening, and we could imagine that this would be the perfect apres-ski hangout in the winter season. We hope to test this theory by returning in the winter to check out the popular ski hill that is visible from the middle of town. No apps are needed to check conditions at Hudson Bay Mountain Resort — as Gladys advised, you just look at the mountain!

Bulkley Valley Brewing in Smithers, BC (photo: Hannah Irvine)

Day 7

Our Final Day in Northwest BC

Our final day had arrived, and so we packed up, fuelled up with coffee and pastries from the funky Two Sisters Café, and set off to the airport. 

As the plane propelled us back to the Okanagan, I reflected that we had managed to cram six breweries, seven restaurants, five coffee shops, two farmers’ markets, three golf courses, five cultural centres, and numerous hikes into six days — and we had only just scratched the surface! The Prince George, Terrace, and Smithers area of Northwest BC has so much to offer – not just the beautiful scenery that I had hoped to find, but also a rich culture of art, music, and food, plus a thriving craft beer scene. We also met some of the friendliest people around who are fiercely proud of their home in the Northwest, and with good reason.

Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Prince George
444 George St, Prince George, BC
Cottonwood Island Nature Park
Alder Hills Golf Course
6011 Giscome Rd, Prince George, BC
Love Local Night Market
2187 Ospika Blvd, Prince George, BC
1733 Nicholson St South, Prince George, BC
Aubree's Breakfast
910 Trans-Canada Hwy, Prince George, BC
Aberdeen Glen Golf Club
1010 Clubhouse Dr, Prince George, BC
Two Rivers Gallery
725 Canada Games Way, Prince George, BC
Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park
Homespun Refillery
421 Dominion St, Prince George, BC
Sisters Rock'n Gems Gallery
1276 4 Ave, Prince George, BC
The Open Door Cafe
6075 Monterey Rd, Prince George, BC
Kitselas Canyon Historic Site
Don Diego's Restaurant
3212 Kalum St, Terrace, BC
Quality Inn Sunshine Suites
4812 Yellowhead Hwy, Terrace, BC