The “Local Spots” in Stewart
Stewart, located in northeastern British Columbia has a bright and colorful history. It’s a boom-bust town, with stories of miners striking it rich or losing it all throughout the ages. Today, Stewart is quieter as the mining industry has slowed, but it still has plenty of the magic and charm from its glory days. Built at the end of the Portland Canal, the fourth longest fjord in the world, Stewart is the northernmost ice free port in Canada. The town is nestled between tall and striking peaks, thick forests, and tumbling glaciers. Being the last stop on Highway 37A, Stewart is literally at the end of the line. Life in Stewart isn’t easy. Winter is long and since the surrounding mountains are so high, sunlight is limited. Getting there is difficult, it’s a four hour drive north from Terrace, on a narrow winding road that can be horrendous in winter. Cars are infrequent and animal sightings can be numerous. Nevertheless, it’s an awe-inspiring destination. Here’s a couple places popular with the locals that are worth check-out:
The King Edward Hotel
Now remember, this is some of the most rugged country in the province. It can be hard to live there and it doesn’t have the glitz and glammer of city life. While the King Edward Hotel (or the “King Eddy” as the locals call it) isn’t the Ritz, it makes up for it in character. It has one of the only bars in town. The patrons usually have big, long, and scruffy beards. They buy beer with beer with a side of beer. The hotel is worn, faded and broken, but as the american writer Hemingway once said, “Everyone is broken. That’s how the light gets in.” It’s an awesome place to stay, eat, drink, and talk to the locals. Maybe you’ll discover a secret ski-doo spot. The chicken wings are also scrumptious.
The Toastworks Cafe
Ever wanted to see toasters from the 1950’s? Then the Toastworks Cafe/Museum is for you! The owners, Frank and Deb, have been collecting toasters for decades. Why? Well why not. Toasters back in the day were more than just an implement for browning bread. It was an art form. It’s a great place to see a bit of history and have breakfast. Enjoy a cinnamon bun with a latte. Mmmmm – Simply Sublime.
The Grocery Stores
As in most small towns, you can discover a lot about them from the food stores. Although Stewart has less then 500 residents, it has two stores. Both are across the street from each other. At first it may seem odd, but then it makes perfect sense, especially when you discover that half the town dislikes the other. And so like most small town dramas, half go to one and the rest to the other. Why is there a fraction? Some people are pro-industry, pro-tourism, or they just never liked “the Smiths”. While it isn’t quite like the TV show “The Days of Our Lives”, the grocery stores in Stewart nevertheless offer a smidgen of small town/soap opera (ish) gossip.
Some might say that Stewart is a “little left of the twenty-first century”. It’s wacky, grimy, and small. And that’s why I love it.
The skiing also is pretty good. If you’re-into-the-best-time-of-your-life-sort-of-thing.