BILL BELL

What makes Fernie special to you? 

 I was born in Springs South Africa. Throughout my life, I traveled a lot and lived in different countries.  In 1972, I was working at Kaiser Resources when I decided to renounce my British Citizenship and become a Canadian citizen. I swore my oath of allegiance at the Fernie Court House – one of the best decisions that I ever made.

I worked and lived all over Canada from Labrador, Toronto, Northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan and then on to Vancouver. I love each part of this amazing country and yet, my friends tell me that I always talked of Fernie.  So, I came back in 1979 and decided to take a long second look.  I am still enjoying that long second look.

It is a good, caring, community. We turn out to fight floods together and open our homes to strangers in winter storms. We rally together and raise money for those needing help and much of what happens is on a friend-to-friend network basis.  There are a lot of really good people living here.

I met my wife (Darlene) here and we raised our daughters Jesse and Jennifer here. I can think of no better place to do that.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

If you have not lived in other countries then you are perhaps not really aware of the amazing things that Canada offers.  I can only urge every Canadian to not take what we have for granted.  Truly, stand on guard against those who would try to take our rights away.  It is an eternal struggle that every generation must embrace.  We can do that and that is what makes us great.


What is your Fernie story?

Fernie has become the only place that I can consider home.  I taught high school here for thirty-four years, prospected and mined gold back in the mountains, and there are still a thousand local places to explore. Living in Fernie, you can never do it all. Every day the light is different and the seasonal scenery changes, constantly repaint the place. No wonder we have so many artists and inspired people. That keeps me here and brings me back when I am far off in other places.