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What makes Fernie special to you?

The ability to enjoy the outdoors in our own back yard. The elderly people that I have gotten to know and appreciate their friendship and knowledge. The small town atmosphere where everyone knows everyone and cares about everyone.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

The fact that it doesn’t mater “what side of the tracks” you are from we can all strive towards and even reach our dreams and goals.


What’s your Fernie story? 

I arrived in Fernie in March of 1970 when my parents moved from Sask. I had many paper routes as a kid, attended Fernie Secondary School, met Patti my wife of 39 yrs, who is a Fernie girl, we have raised our 2 children here and I have had the fortune of being self employed in the Fernie area for the past 39 years.

SIENNA LONGO

What makes Fernie special to you?

For a small town, Fernie has a lot to offer. While many people come and stay here because of the beautiful outdoors, there is also something for “Artsy people” like me. I am lucky to be able to learn from professional artists. I can take piano and singing lessons while playing on a volleyball team, or dancing and acting lessons while learning to snowboard.

Fernie feels like a family. We are friends with our neighbours, can say hi to random people and get a greeting in return, and all of my friends are within walking distance. A few of the families of the kids in my class moved here sight unseen just because they loved the look of Fernie on the internet.

I love the food here too. I can hang out at coffee shops, and what other small town has artisanal ice cream, chocolate, and cheese shops?


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

Canada’s best features are its natural beauty and cultural diversity. My dad is Canadian, but his parents immigrated to Canada from Italy. They have been able to keep their customs, language, and traditions. Canadians don’t buy into the idea of a “melting pot”. We are united by the fact that we are Canadian. Recent events have allowed me to reflect more on these ideals. The fact that refugees are willing to risk their lives in order to become a part of this country is remarkable. I am proud to be a member of a country that fights for the little guy, a country that fights for women, the LGBTQ community, refugees, immigrants, and our Indigenous peoples.


What’s your Fernie story?

I am in Fernie because my mom grew up here and my grandparents still live in Fernie. My parents were living in Montreal, but after I was born my mom wanted to move back to a quieter place to raise me. She saw an ad for a job in Fernie in the Montreal Gazette and strongly encouraged my dad to apply. Five weeks later, my dad and I moved from Montreal to Fernie, a week into kindergarten, while my mom drove our VW van with all of our stuff across the country.

School and friends keep me in Fernie and the fact that we love living here. I will have lived in Fernie for 10 years in September 2017. My mom’s family has lived here since 1970, 45 years! It’s nice to have roots in Fernie, I have grandparents, and a network of adopted grandparents, that support me in everything I do.

NADINE BAKER

What makes Fernie special to you?

What makes Fernie special to me – the lifestyle and ability to walk out my door and be in nature. It’s a place of joy and good spirits where people who are like minded can share in similar things and enjoy the company of total strangers as well as neighbours because of the attraction of like minded people. The fact that I can walk out my door and be able to cross country ski, mountain bike or go for a hike with my daughter and expose her to it at such a found age is another reason. I grew up in the mountains and love them, I am so thankful that I have been able to come back to the mountains and have the opportunity to raise a family in Fernie.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

The love and kindness that we are known for, it gives a sense of respect when people come to visit or when we travel elsewhere. We’re known to be very laid back and passive, but I believe it’s more than that. We are honest and wholesome people and the fact that it’s felt throughout the world makes me proud when people ask and I get to tell them I’m from Canada. It’s amazing that people can tell just by our attitude and compassion that we have for human kind that we are Canadian.

The fact that we love other cultures and we are a melting pot makes it so wonderful. We get to create our own identity from the variety of people that Canada has within its borders and we welcome it. We keep a little piece of people and their characteristics and mix it in to crate our own identity that is different from other countries. And we don’t run around boasting about it. We just are “Canadian” and we don’t have to prove it.


What is your Fernie story?

My partner fell in love with this place years ago before we were ever in each other’s sights. When we got together we weren’t panning on moving here, but down the line, we both knew we wanted a better quality of life than just work and trying to work in our favourite activities when we had time. We sat down and said we needed to make a plan to get back to the lifestyle that we both loved. We discussed moving back to the mountains for me, as it was always my goal to move back home. He mentioned that he loved Fernie and asked if we could try it instead. I said sure why not.

We landed here in June of 2013, with a bang right around the time of the floods. I didn’t know anyone and just jumped right into my new job. We loved up on the ski hill where I could go biking and sit in the peace and quiet of the mountain. It’s been almost four years since we moved here and we have loved the seasons and adventures that Fernie has brought us and are so glad that we can call it home. We had a daughter last march and it’s been such an amazing event watching her take in the mountains, snow and wilderness everyday she sees something new and her eyes just light up.

LINDSAY VALLANCE

What makes Fernie special?

Technically, Fernie is my hometown. For all other purposes it’s Cokato, that weird little patch of farmland across the river from the Ski Hill that people think is named after a species of parrot, but isn’t.

Cokato is only a seven-minute drive from downtown, but when I was a kid the distance was unthinkably vast. The only way to get To Town was on your bike, and if you did that it would take thirty minutes of sweaty agony and you would be eaten by a cougar.

You just would.

Not to mention, you had no way of getting home when it was dark. So when I was a kid I thought of our farm and the trees and streams around it as my real hometown, and that is still what awes and comforts me about it today. It’s what makes Fernie special- it exists on a narrow line between the antics of human endeavour and the wordless, timeless core of nature. You can walk out your door in any direction and be humbled by what you see.

We’re lucky.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

Our self-effacement. Plus, we’re the best dang country in the world!!!

(Also our clean water, clean air, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, adherence to human rights, mostly-functioning democracy, and ketchup-flavoured chips.)


What’s your Fernie story?

I was born and raised in Fernie, and I’ve lived here most of my life, except for a sabbatical of about ten years in the middle where I went off to Find Myself (it didn’t work).

My mom comes from a long line of coal miners who moved to Michel in the late 19th century. My dad’s a Scottish immigrant who met my mom at a staff meeting in the late 60’s (#romance) and decided to stay.

That’s it.

I should have something sweeping and grand to say about this town and how my story interweaves with it in a glorious tapestry of belonging, but I don’t.

Instead, I’m going to tell you a story about a sheep– because of all the ungulates, they have been the most integral to my Fernie experience.

It was September-the day before I was due to start my second year of university, and it was time to get serious. I had finally escaped my small town, I had survived my first year at school, I had weird, arty friends from distant, fabled cities like Calgary and Moosejaw, and this year for sure I was going to shed my rural shell and emerge like a beautiful, geeky butterfly. But, as I was about to realise, small town roots have a way of sticking around.

University was in Lethbridge, which meant many long drives in the USS Enterprise. That’s right. Other families had SUVs or minivans – we had a bright red utility van named after the spaceship in Star Trek. (We also had a crew cab manure truck called the Death Star. This is what happens when you let nerds have farms.)

The Enterprise was enormous and utilitarian-an un-insulated steel box on wheels that acted as a mobile chest freezer in the winter and a solar oven in the summer. Today, it was packed to the brim: me, my paltry belongings, my my mom, my dad, my brother, my brother’s manual wheelchair, my friend Erin (who, in a moment she would come to regret, had decided to get a ride with us rather than take the Greyhound), Erin’s luggage, and a 250 pound Corriedale ram named Steve.

Steve was going to Fort MacLeod to be traded for another ram, and, hopefully, to spend the rest of his life consorting with female sheep who weren’t as closely related to him as ours. By a stroke of luck, it turned out that the date of the exchange would coincide perfectly with my trip to Lethbridge. So, Steve was heaved onto a bed of straw in the back third of the van, separated from the rest of us by a sheet of plywood held in place with bungee cords.

We drove East.

It started out well. The Enterprise was running smoothly, the day was sunny, and Steve settled down once he had belched a few times and saturated his straw with nervous pee.

We stopped at Fort MacLeod and made the switch. The replacement ram (we’ll call him New Steve) was also pretty mellow. Or so we thought.

We finally arrived in Lethbridge, dropped Erin off, and turned into the parking lot of my new apartment building.

The second the van stopped moving, New Steve scented freedom. He stood up, wedged his nose into the space between the side window and the frame, and started bleating.

I should mention that this is an understatement. When people hear “bleat” they think of the sound sheep make in movies, that sweet, nasal m-eeee-h noise. There may be sheep that make that sound. They are not our sheep. A fully grown Corriedale ram has a chest cavity the size and shape of a half-barrel keg. It has resonance. It has gravitas. It sounds like a tuba made in hell.

It is also amazingly persistent. The sound of angry livestock blared out of our van like an awful, rustic car alarm. It went on, and on, and on, as my parents and I hauled all of my worldly belongings, piece by piece, through the main doors of my apartment building and up the tiny elevator.

People stopped and stared.  Japanese exchange students took pictures.

I wanted to die.

It turns out you can take yourself out of the valley, but you can’t stop the valley from following you to school. And bellowing at you in a parking lot.

KEVIN PETRYSHEN

What makes Fernie special to you?

Diversity, a sense of solitude, isolation, and strong bond that people of the community share.  I truly believe that everyone lives in Fernie because they genuinely want to be here.

Fernie is home to such a wide array of people with endless growing interests, skills and talents that it feels as though we have everything we need right here. Living among the great outdoors and with the Lizard Mountain Range just outside our front door, there are endless opportunities to those who seek thrill and adventure, and a sense of rooting with nature, you would never find in any city. Having also grown up in rural Alberta, managing life among large crowds has never been my forte, so a population of 5000, hours away from any city is something I get comfort from. In the 4 years I have been around Fernie, I have yet to complain, or here someone complains, about wanting to leave this majestic town so many call home.  Make your way to the top of any surrounding peak, drink coffee at any of the fine shops in town, catch 50 cm of unexpected snow, or watch Shred Kelly Jam at Wapiti Festival and you may find some understanding of why Fernie is so great.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

I was born, raised, and have lived 98.9% of my life on Canadian soil. It’s my blood and heritage. Being one of the largest countries in the world, and one of the least populated per Sq. km, and being extremely diverse, it’s basically just a large scale Fernie, with similar characteristics!


What’s your Fernie story?

I moved into a 1 bedroom condo in Timberline crescent, with 3 best friends in December 2013. After a winter season in Whistler, we all decided a more low key town, with some more inland temperatures and snow would be more suiting. Essentially snowboarding was the main factor for testing the waters in Fernie. The community, endless activities that keep a person body, mind and soul happy, and my seasonal summer job that replenishes the bank are basically what keep me here.

KEIRAN MACNAIR

What makes Fernie special to you?  

Fernie is so special to me because it’s so small, which means it’s almost impossible not to run into someone you know while walking down the street. Even if you don’t know someone they’ll still smile and be friendly. Everyone you see is helpful and kind; if you need a hand all you have to do is ask which is incredible. You’d almost never get that in a big city. We have such a strong community, and if we put our minds to it we can do anything.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

Canada is such an amazing and accepting place. We are such a diverse and caring nation and that can’t be said about every country; instead of shunning people who are unlike us, we welcome them with open arms and minds. We as a country will embrace who you are, whether you’re an immigrant, have a different religion, are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, have opposing views on international and political matters, or do things in a dissimilar way because that’s how you were raised or is dictated by your culture.


What is your Fernie story?

My sister and I were born and raised in Fernie. What I’ll do after I finish high school is yet to be determined, but no matter what I do Fernie will always be home and now that my sister’s gone to university, it’s different. Some people are surprised when I say that I miss her and that is the truth. It feels like a part of home, a part of Fernie has left, but that’s just the way it is. Life is going to take you on all sorts of adventures, and part of going on an adventure is leaving the comforts of home behind and sometimes you’ll wish you had just stayed home, but most of the time you’ll end up regretting not going if you don’t. I look forward to everything Fernie has to offer to me and wherever the path it has put me on will take.

GORDON SOMBROWSKI

What makes Fernie special to you?

Fernie is maturing into one of those rare places: a small charming town where open-minded, caring, diverse people who revel in art, music and literature can also enjoy the opportunity for outdoor and community sport. A town which values and is striving to preserve its architectural, cultural, ethnic and historic heritage. To have such a community set in the sublime landscape of the Rocky Mountains in which a rich variety of wildlife still thrives (for now – let us hope forever) and where four almost perfect seasons provide an ever changing panoply of colour to live in is a great blessing. Fernie is not a place without problems but our problems are manageable, with realistic hope for solutions and improvements, and this too is rare. I once saw a book entitled: “Heaven is a Place in the Rockies”. I think the writer meant Fernie.


What makes you proud to be a Canadian?

I have had a complicated relationship with Canada. At my birth, I was defined by Canada as someone who was going to be a criminal. I was just old enough to start knowing that I was going to grow up to be a criminal when finally the state got out of the bedrooms of the nation. In 1969, homosexuality was decriminalized by the Parliament of Canada.  I remember somehow instinctively realizing the change in the law was going to help change my future. But changing that law didn’t suddenly change life in Canada and I very quickly learned that people still discriminated against me by denying me and people like me jobs, homes, and the ability to live openly and freely. I questioned my place in Canada throughout all of my teen years until my mid-thirties. I even lived abroad for much of the 1980’s wondering if I would be able to have a better, freer life in Europe than in Canada. On a courageous whim, I returned to Fernie in 1989 hoping I could make a life in Canada, thinking maybe I could work for change in Canada. It was not until 1995 when the Supreme Court of Canada read LGBT protection into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that I began to believe that I had a real future in Canada. I did not, however, feel like I was a true citizen of Canada until 2005 when same-sex marriage was legalized and I was given the same standing as other Canadians. I can still clearly remember the feeling that I had that day when the Parliament of Canada passed the legislation. Suddenly we all had true equality. I actually said to the people I was with that day, “Today, for the first time in my life, I feel like I am a citizen of Canada!”


What is your Fernie story?

My Fernie story is simple. I am a child of the Rocky Mountains. I am here because of the stories that have been written here and are yet to be written here. There is no better place for me to write them.

BLAIR CRAIG

What makes Fernie special to you?

Fernie is a small clean city that is full of people who really want to be here. It is surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains and is divided by the Elk River – such a stunning setting offering plenty of options for outdoor sports, activities and adventures. Incorporated in 1904 – Fernie was here long before people had the time or desire to spend their days playing in the snow. I like to say that Fernie is a real town first and a tourist town second. If you are riding a chair lift or having a coffee downtown, you can meet people from all over the world that are here to recreate. Many of these visitors become regulars or residents and find their own way to belong in this friendly and exciting community. If you have been here for a short time or a long time – it is easy to feel welcome.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

Canada – quite simply – is a great place to live. It is a country where you can expect to be treated fairly. It is a place with a large and diverse landscape, uncrowded for the most part. Famous for things like cold winters, where a large part of the year is full of snow and cold temps, and the people here like it just fine! Canadians, for the most part, embrace our change of seasons.


What’s your Fernie story?

I came to Fernie for the winter of 1975/76 to be a ski bum with a job. I found work as a t-bar operator at Fernie Snow Valley. I have worked at the ski hill every winter since then! Most of those years I have been working as a cat operator grooming the slopes. In 1995 my wife Lynn and I started Canyon Raft Company offering whitewater rafting in the Elk River Canyon. We feel very lucky to have had many wonderful people come to work as river guides for us. We are also grateful for all of the people who come out to ride the river with us.

 

 

 

 

NICOLE KNAUF

What makes Fernie special to you? 

Fernie is such an amazing community to be a part of.  The people are so unique and diverse; everyone seems to bring something special to our community.  It is such an active group of people who are generally just stoked on life.  I love being outside whether it’s a beautiful sunny day or a powder day and seeing nearly everyone out and about, all smiles just loving life.  It makes me proud to be a part of it; one of the people who decided to live the dream in our awesome little town.


 What makes you proud to be Canadian?

I feel so fortunate to have been born Canadian.  We live in such a beautiful and amazing country.  I have travelled abroad and have such pride when I am asked where I’m from.  And there are so many breathtaking places to visit within Canada.  The freedom, space, friendliness and wild beauty we have are so unique in comparison to so many other places.


What is your Fernie story?

I’m originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I bounced around a bit after high school, living in other mountain towns.  I came to visit my brother who was here for a season back in 2002 and fell in love with the place.  I went home and pretty much packed up and moved here myself.  I was easily convinced to stay a summer, then, well why not stay another winter?  The rest is history.  I am now married and raising 2 awesome boys and living the dream: mountain biking, camping etc. in summer and skiing, snowboarding, etc. in winter with some travel in between seasons. And somehow we find the time to run our businesses in there…The rest of my family (minus one brother in Nelson) has migrated to Fernie since then (2 sisters and their families, one brother and my parents). I feel so fortunate every day to be able to live in this awesome place surrounded by friends and family.