The community of Smithers was founded in 1913 as the divisional headquarters of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The community took its name from Sir Alfred Smithers, the chairman of the board of directors of the railway. Alfred Avenue is also named after him. Lake Kathlyn, one of the most familiar spots in the Smithers area, is named after Sir Alfred’s daughter.

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The site was the original homestead of the Watson Family. The site became a local gathering area and featured an outdoor dance floor for summer events.

Part of the Watson clan was a family of 6 boys, born to Mary and Joe Watson Sr.: The Watson boys learned to play hockey outdoors. In Smithers, nearby Lake Kathlyn freezes from late October to mid April, and the ice often becomes three feet thick as the temperatures plunge to 20 degrees below zero in the middle of winter. Before they joined organized leagues, the boys played makeshift games on the frozen lake.

"Sometimes, we had to use a hunk of frozen horse manure for a puck," Jimmy told legendary Philadelphia Bulletin writer Jack Chevalier in 1974. "Real frustration is when the ice is beautiful on Lake Kathlyn and it's your turn to go break off the next piece."

Jimmy and Joe Jr. went on to have successful NHL careers with the Philadelphia Flyers.