What makes Fernie special to you?
Fernie is special to me for its breathtaking beauty, its serenity, its clean air and most of all for its people- caring, sharing, fun, funny, intelligent, creative, compassionate. I love its four seasons. Each season provides opportunities for our outdoor enthusiasts, jobs for our citizens, and inspiration for our artists and shut-ins. The seasons also remind me that change is inevitable. As a community, I believe Fernie is defined by its volunteers. I can’t think of a thing that has been done or will be done in this town without its volunteers. From the renovation of our heritage buildings, to the preservation of our environment and history, to the fostering of the arts, to the running of programs for youth and the elderly. to fundraising for our hospital, our churches, our schools, our needy. When it comes to working together, no matter our ages or backgrounds, we are all one.
More than being proud, I am grateful to be a Fernie-ite. To live in a town of great beauty and goodness.
My favourite Fernie scenario:
Two vehicles approach each other from different directions and stop in the middle of a Fernie street. Windows roll down and the drivers have a quick catch-up. If other cars approach, their drivers either wait patiently for the two vehicles to move on or slowly manoeuvre their way around the “road block”. No horns, no shaking fists, no angry words. Just a smile, or a nod, or a wave. I call this, “the Fernie chat”.
What makes you proud to be Canadian?
In 2005 I became a Canadian citizen and am so proud of my adopted country. Canada is a land of freedom and diversity, both in its geography and its population. Though I haven’t explored a fraction of this great country, I appreciate its vast open spaces as well as its vibrant cities. I relish the many ethnic groups that make up the Canadian mosaic. I appreciate that I can experience various cuisines, learn about different customs and celebrations, and hear a variety of languages and accents. I love Canada for its welcoming spirit. I am proud of Canada’s public education system, a right guaranteed for all. Our children, Kirsten, Julian, Xavier and Anna, all attended Isabella Dicken Elementary School and graduated from Fernie Secondary School. Their dedicated teachers equipped them with the knowledge, the tools and the confidence to pursue further education and become contributing members of society. They now raise families of their own in the spirit of acceptance and generosity that Canada is known for around the world. I am grateful for Canada’s health system. Over the years, our family has experienced the birth of babies, the treatment of infections, the setting of bones, open heart surgery, cataract surgery and more. We never saw a bill. Imagine. I am proud of our social welfare system that provides housing, food, job training, home support, counselling and more to those in need. Our system isn’t perfect but it sure beats many alternatives.
What is your Fernie story?
Born in New York City, I came to Canada at the age of seventeen to attend the University of Toronto. I chose Canada because I loved to ski. (I was obviously clueless about Canada’s geography.) There I met my future husband George, a native of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. After we graduated, I in Arts and George in Law, we headed west for an adventure- our necessities in the trunk of our green VW Beetle, our five-month-old firstborn in a little cot on the back seat, ( no car seats in those days), and the rest of our scant belongings on a train to Vancouver. After a year, we moved to Kimberley and then to Fernie where George opened his own law practice in 1971. We never planned to stay forever, we even moved back East once with our children and dog. But Fernie had captured our hearts and we joyously returned. When we first moved to Fernie people said that you’re never really a true Fernie-ite unless you were born and raised here. But now I think that, if you’ve chosen to make Fernie your home, whether for a year or forty, whether part time or full time, then you’re a Fernie-ite. When George died in 2003, his siblings from Ontario and mine from New England asked, “Well, Annie, now that George is gone are you coming back home?” I hadn’t given this a thought, but when I did I knew the answer. Fernie is my home.