Smoking Gun BBQ opens in downtown Libby

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“We didn’t choose Libby, Libby chose us,” said Canary, hinting at his awareness of the potential cheesiness of such a statement with his tone of voice. Cabinet Peaks needed manager for the Cardiopulmonary (the department that treats asbestosis) and Diabetes/Nutrition Departments. After a single visit, the small-town magic pulled Canary in, and his mind was made up. It would be different here than the big city, of course, but he also felt he could do a lot of good for the people here. Likewise, his wife Jennifer could easily find a job working in special education for the district, a position she had been wanting for a long time. They moved and fell in love near instantly with the town, their jobs, and the people they served every day.

It has been nearly three years since that move, and Jeremy felt it was time for a change. He had loved spending the last 27 years in healthcare, but the trade has a way if wearing a person down. “When I would see people, it’s not on their good day”, and even doing one’s best was no guarantee of a happy outcome. He had changed, evolved, as one happens to do on the journey through life. Perhaps not on the outside, as there was no doubt that one could easily recognize the cheery bald man that trotted around the medical center in his boots and goatee, ready to talk to anyone about anything and everything. But now he wanted to find a new way to serve people, make them happy. And that’s when he had an idea.

Canary had already loved making good Southern BBQ, and more importantly, sharing his food with the only repayment being the smiles of his friends and family. Unfortunately, he had not been able to follow his dream of cooking much further than that. But then, by chance, perhaps by the same force that had chosen him to move to Libby, while Canary sat in his car on a business call in front of the shuttered CC’s Ice-cream, the owner of the building walked by. Embracing the sense of destiny that seemed to surround Libby, Canary walked up to the man and began talking about the future of the old ice cream shop. Some weeks later, even while the voice of Covid mumbled and muttered in the back of Canary’s head, a deal was struck, and the Smoking Gun BBQ would soon open.

Had there been any doubts that the restaurant would succeed, they were quickly dispelled after the first week of business. Surely to no one’s genuine surprise, people loved Canary’s Southern BBQ. Who couldn’t? After simply talking about homemade baked beans with molasses and bacon, fresh coleslaw, sweet and cold Dole Whip, and pulled pork smoked for hours with a secret blend experience and passion, one could easily become hungry after just eating a full meal. There was no shortage of enthusiasm as some people showed up twice a day while others pledged their loyalty to the new restaurant. Hopefully assuring a new standing member of the restaurant community in Libby.

Emerson’s entreats us to live today as the best version of who we could be; someone who is self-reliant, just, and kind. We must live knowing that we can never promise tomorrow to ourselves. And should we wish something, should we desire to improve the lives of those around us, should we seek happiness when little might warrant the emotion, we must not wait to do so. Why must we not wait? Perhaps the answer lies in this simple truth. When asked what about food was so compelling to warrant the change of a lifelong career, Canary gave a simple answer; “There is just something about handing a milkshake and burger to someone, and seeing them smile.”

By Tyler Whitney, The Montanian

Mobile hotspots

available for loan at the


On September 1, Lincoln County Library will begin a Hotspot Lending Program. Verizon hotspot units will be available for a 14-day checkout to library cardholders at least 18 years of age. The mobile devices allow free internet connection beyond the walls of the library and anywhere Verizon service is available on any smartphone, laptop, tablet or other mobile device.

At the May meeting of the Montana State Library Commission, funds were allocated to purchase mobile hotspots and cellular service for distribution to public and tribal college libraries. Through this pilot program, Lincoln County Library received thirteen fully funded hotspots with a one-year cellular plan. Continuation of the program will be assessed by the Lincoln County Library Board of Trustees at the end of the one-year contract as funding will transfer to the library budget.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent flooding of the Libby branch has intensified the need for increased internet access across our county. When Lincoln County Library closed in March, those that depend on Wi-Fi at the public library were left without access for their suddenly growing critical needs: distance learning for children, applying for unemployment benefits, seeking telemedicine options, and ordering necessities for home delivery, to name a few.

Montana State Librarian, Jennie Stapp, said, “By providing mobile hotspots to libraries, and through the pilot study, we hope to expand access now, and learn more about the impacts of offering cellular-data devices to Montana’s library patrons so that we can best support Montanans to thrive.”

For more information about the Hotspot Lending Program, visit lincolncountylibraries.com or contact the librarians at your local Lincoln County Library branch..

Submitted  Alyssa Ramirez