What makes Fernie special to you? 

Fernie has so many things it is hard to define.  I didn’t like Fernie much to start with.  Coming skiing here was great but I didn’t know much about the town or the people.  I came from a small town that my family had been in for generations.  I was not used to being foreign and on the outside. Once I started to get to know people I started to really see what a diverse community it is.  There are so many different people, different cultures and different ways of life, it is a city with a complex and fascinating history and yet still young too.  I love the history that is here and I love the exoticness that keeps people “Discovering Fernie”  which seems to make it new.  But most of all I love the people.  There are so many people who have become the family of my heart with deep connections that regardless of time we are forever bonded.  There is the family that I married into, whom I cherish.  I love that as a community we can put aside our differences and help each other whether it is building sandbags for the Flood of ’95 or neighbours helping neighbours in the Blizzard  of 2017.  We rally together for births, deaths and illness.  I love the people of this city and am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to be a part of the fabric of this amazing place and to raise my children here.

What makes you proud to be Canadian?

I am proud to be a Canadian when I think of the medley of its people, the vastness and magnificence of its landscapes, its history and its connectedness. I have lived in three of our provinces that could not be more different,  in the history, the culture and the geography, yet we are connected.  I first learned the first three of my loves for Canada while in high school I was accepted to attend Encounters Canada in Ottawa. I met so many amazing people from all over, I had flown for hours and not reached the other side of our country, how different the landscapes was from home, and how rich our heritage is.  It was later when I learned how connected we all are, despite the mountains, prairies, lakes and forests that separate us, while sitting in a small room in New Brunswick I  asked someone if they knew Gary from Simcoe, Ontario and their answer is YES, he is my friend too!  It has happened more times than I can count and I am thrilled each time.   I am proud to be Canadian and it brings me great joy to share the amazing wonders of this land, share the history of it and the people who make it so  special and making connections across the country.  I truly believe we live in the best country!

 What is your Fernie story?

My Fernie story started in 1978.  My Father loved skiing so we would pack up the motorhome for the weekends and camp up at the hill. It evolved into a condo in the Griz Inn then Dad coming up with the idea of starting a business in town.  That idea eventually evolved into Smitty’s/Husky in 1992.  I came after college, in 1994, to help my parents with the restaurant.  In ’96 we opened the Super 8 Motel. I wasn’t committed to staying in Fernie until my father passed away and I wouldn’t leave my mother with so much work.  So I stayed. I began to get know people in Fernie and one day I met a local fellow.   I joke that I was never going to date a Fernie boy let alone marry one!  He is a first generation Fernie-born,  Italian boy.  Three generations of his family have called Fernie home, it is a large family with deep Fernie roots. We sold my parents’ businesses and my mom and sister have moved back home; however, my husband and I have made Fernie our home.  We are so happy to raise our children around family in a great community, and the beautiful setting we call home.

I was raised in Alberta but I have grown up in Fernie.


What makes Fernie special to you? 

I like the feeling of knowing everyone. Whether I am at a coffee shop or the grocery store or the swimming pool, I am bound to run into people I know, people I think of as friends even if I don’t find time to visit with them regularly. In those chance meetings, we’re keen to catch up on each other’s family and work and recreation. Because of the energy and enthusiasm of those visits, the kindness of those friends, the way we all share our interests and passions with each other, Fernie feels more like family than community.

Those people – their warmth and generosity, their full lives – are part of what makes me proud of my connection to this town. I love bringing visiting writers here and showing off Fernie – the natural splendour, the energetic arts scene, the world-class recreation, the kind and happy people.

What makes you proud to be Canadian?

I like the massive sprawl of it, how it is so many different things. I travel around Canada regularly (too much if you ask my family) to speak about my writing, and the variety of Canada – its landscapes, its people – is quite thrilling. Diversity is the first word that comes to mind when I read this question, and I’m proud of the recent moves Canadians are making to honour and respect this diversity.

What is your Fernie story?

My story is like so many others. I came for a holiday and stayed to live. I originally travelled to Fernie for a one-week trip. I had met Marty Hafke on the varsity swim team at University of Western Ontario. His parents had moved to Fernie – his father was an explosives inspector at the mine – and Marty had been staying with them for summers, lifeguarding at the outdoor pool in Rotary Park.  He’d made some good friends so decided to do a gap year and ski in Fernie after finishing an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. Near the end of his “gap year,” I decided to visit him for “a week.” So Marty came for one year and I came for one week, and here were are twenty years later with two kids and a mortgage.  That seems to be how it happens. It does not take long to fall in love with Fernie. I remember my moment: standing in the Overwaitea parking lot, with the sunset lighting up the Three Sisters. I realized even grocery shopping was better in Fernie. I also realized that I would find a way to make a life in Fernie and stay.



What makes Fernie special to you? 

1. a body of people living in one place…and considered as a whole. 2. A group with common interests…3. Fellowship, being alike in some way… (Oxford).

I enjoy Fernie as a community.  When the trials present themselves, the people rise to the occasion and help each other. During big snowfalls, neighbours lend a hand to shovel each other out.  When the river floods people come out to fill sandbags and deliver to appropriate areas of need.

There is a communion (like beliefs) of why people choose to be here. Even with a wide variety of thoughts, lifestyles, and opinions, people come together and work out interesting challenges and support successes.

As a developing community, there are a lot of opportunities; in work, and recreation.  I love to be able to nod, wave and smile in recognition of most people in town.  Like old home week.

And ahh, the newcomers; welcome to the community.  I made one my life partner and best friend.  And the visitors, we get to know them too often making meaningful friendships.

Fernie has been a great place to raise my children.  I remember asking them to keep their gum wrappers in their pocket in order to respect their surroundings; appreciate nature and that we are a part of the community.  I also asked them to treat others as they expect to be treated. In a community, we are never anonymous.

What makes you proud to be Canadian?

I am proud and truly thankful for the local and country-wide attributes: Colourful history. Natural beauty. Fresh drinking water. Lakes, rivers and the streams. Trails and forests. Wildlife. Arts and culture. The big country just minutes from the highway. The diversity from coast to coast of this vast country.

I am proud we make a stand on addressing social and economic issues.  For the most part create a balance to provide and improve health care, school systems, prochoice enablement’s, justice and equal rights movements, and environmental concerns. I am proud of our countries reputation for being advocates of peace and known as kind people. All these things contribute to the legacy for our children, and for others that will follow us.

I am honoured to be Canadian.

What is your Fernie story?

I arrived in Fernie in 1979. After moving back and forth across the country several times I always longed for the west.  I worked in the forestry industry in the summer and at the ski resort in the winter. The tourism industry was blossoming.

The ski resort provided full-time work for 26 years with experiences, friendships, knowledge in life skills, education and training, trade certification, trying times and many fun and entertaining times.

I met Christa (the newcomer) and we have two wonderful sons, who are now making their own lives, here in Fernie.

I am currently employed with Island Lake Resort.  I have been working here for the past 11 years. I feel fortunate to be working in yet another glorious setting, gaining more life experiences.

Often when working on the ski lift towers or wrapped up in whatever projects at Island Lake Lodge, I forget to look around and appreciate the magnificent place we call home. When I do stop to look around, it is truly glorious.


What makes Fernie special to you?

Fernie is special to me because when there is a disaster small or large, affecting one person or the whole community, the people of Fernie band together to offer help or support. It’s in these tough times that the people of Fernie show their mettle.

Fernie has such a strong sense of community and friendship.

 What makes you proud to be Canadian?

Canada is a place where all cultures can come and be loved and accepted. We have so much diversity in Canada and this makes us unique and strong. Canadians are tolerant accepting and progressive thinking. These qualities are what make me proud to be Canadian.

What is your Fernie story?

I grew up in Hosmer and went to elementary and high school in Fernie. I met my beautiful wife in Grade 6 at I.D.E.S. We got engaged at prom and married shortly after high school. We moved to Lethbridge for college.  However, after graduating, we felt a strong pull to move back to Fernie. I started working in the coal mines and joined the mine rescue team.  It was this point that I met many of the great people that serve and protect our community with Fernie Fire Rescue. Through mentorship and training, I was able to join this incredible team.  I fell in love with rescue work and serving our community.


What makes Fernie special to you?

The people of Fernie is what makes it special for me.  Not just the people that currently call Fernie home but also the generations of people that helped shape and mould the fabric of our community.  The teachers that have taught and continue to teach the countless students over the past 100 plus years. The volunteers that worked endless hours over the decades. The coaches of our teams both past and present. The miners and loggers that worked so hard and raised their families here. The people with the foresight to see the possibilities that Fernie has to offer and were willing to take the leap of faith needed to explore those opportunities. The artists that have helped put Fernie on the map. People that stepped forward to form our City Councils that made the decisions that brought us here today.   Simply put It’s the people that make Fernie special.

What makes you proud to be Canadian?

I’m proud of Canadian people’s compassion & acceptance.  When travelling abroad, people are always so respectful and complimentary when they find out your Canadian. We are truly fortunate are to be Canadian and enjoy the freedoms that we do.

We are quietly a proud people – trying our best to help make the world a better place.

What’s your Fernie story?

My family has been here 110 plus years.  I was born and raised here as was my husband and we raised our four children here. Fernie is home – that is why we stay here; there is no other place I’d rather be.  Our families’ roots are deeply woven into the fabric of Fernie – my heart fills with pride when I walk uptown to see locals and visitors enjoying our community. We are a town filled with history- some colourful, some sad, and some which makes your heart sing. We have so much to offer in our community – active churches, active service clubs, a busy arena and aquatic Centre, a vibrant arts community, a library bursting with offerings, a seniors centre that’s vibrant,  a progressive museum that reaches into all aspects of our history, busy sports fields, wonderful shops and nearly every service that is needed.  Fernie is home and home is important to me.


What makes Fernie special to you?

Fernie is a lovely resort in the Rockies which has a reasonable climate that allows people to enjoy its environment year round. We can hike and  bike in the summer and enjoy its lovely snow in winter.

Our city provides good services year round such as snow clearance and upkeeping of our streets.   Shopping facilities are good especially with our relatively new shopping centre just outside the town.

Our schools are good.   Our son and daughter, Patti and Marc, received a good education, which allowed them to follow their chosen fields of interest in journalism and medicine.

Our recreation facilities are good which allow children and adults to engage in what they enjoy, whether it be skiing, hockey, mountain biking, skating,  etc.

It is a lovely town for young and old.

What about Canada?  What makes you proud to be Canadian?

I love Canada.   It allows people to enjoy peace and prosperity.   People ae good, and our government provides a good standard of living for all of us through our social programs, whether it be employment opportunities, children’s allowance or old aged pension. Our education system is good which allows our children to choose the career suited for them. Our medical services are also very good, for young and old.

What is your Fernie story?

We came to Fernie to teach in 1975 and enjoyed teaching at our high school for thirty years.

We are happily retired here and enjoy the environment every day.  Thank you, Fernie.


What makes Fernie special to you?

The vibe. It’s so difficult to put into words. There is an energy available here, that I have not experienced anyplace else that I have lived or visited. Is it our geographical atmosphere? The protective, breathtaking presence of our mountains. Naturally, they contribute. Is it our familiar yet ever-changing Elk River? The cold, clean, life force of our valley. Her current generates spirit. Mountains and rivers are a part of nearly every other mountain town I’ve been to… so I must attribute the unique vibe I found in Fernie to our community. In a time when social connections can easily be defined as the analytics of my social media feeds, I cherish the profound moments defined only by human interaction.

Blizzard blinded sidewalk travel
Requires head down power hiking
Over snow plough created moguls
Someone’s snow boots appear
Heads raise
Eyes meet
Snowflake laced lashes
Smiles exchanged
Final destinations
Paused That moment
A Fernite courtesy

Moment after moment, again and again, people give me their time. If only a moment, I’m touched every time. Folks that call Fernie home recognize these moments as an integral part of the local lifestyle – moments of connection that accumulate, like our legendary powder, into meaningful friendships, loving families, close-knit community – a landscape of people you can truly count on. It only takes one moment of connection to feel like you’re a part of something important. That’s the vibe.

What makes you proud to be Canadian?

I left Canada for my new home in upstate New York when I was 10. When I returned to Canada at 18 I was changed. They converted me with every pledge of allegiance to every star-spangled banner, every war on terrorism, I believed I was the best – we all did. I was educated with the fundamental ideology that I lived in the only nation that mattered. I was devastated to move back to Canada – where the only positive thing I could remember from when I was ten was Smarties. With my head down and my heart heavy, I left the home of the brave, land of the free. When I arrived back in Canada I woke up and I recognized my home and native land. In that moment with a glowing heart, I chose to rise above and I have lived with incredible gratitude to be Canadian from that day forward. I had to leave, be changed, come home and be found, to discover the true north strong and free within me.

What’s your Fernie story?

That’s the existential question. Easy. I followed a boy I was in love with. Now he’s my husband and best friend. We have three incredible children. Fernie is our home. We got married here, two of our kids were born at home here. As a mother – the title I identify with most naturally, there’s something special for me about the first house in Fernie we lived in. That little house on 5th Avenue, where my second son was born, makes me feel like I’ve lived here longer than the 10 years that I have. When I’m in that neighbourhood I tell my son, that’s where you were born. It feels ancient to me. My Fernie story is a work in progress. I don’t ever want to reside in the past. The only place I have any power is right now. I know I have lots to offer and as I grow as a woman, mother and community organizer what I’m able to offer evolves, but what remains constant is my desire to give back. It’s my purpose. I have lots left to give.