What makes Fernie special to you?
I’m definitely a mountain boy. While we tend to ignore them when they’re outside our window every morning, we quickly learn that our mountains are what we miss when we go away. I’m definitely not a snow person, so I hibernate in the winter, but our summers are spectacular. In the summer I’m wandering around Morrissey or Coal Creek, hopping up the rocks in one of the creeks, or laying out in the sun at the lake. Even with how busy Fernie is getting, there’s always a quiet place close by to sneak away and enjoy the outdoors.
The people in our valley have always had a habit of being there for each other. Whether it’s during one of the many misfortunes we’ve experienced, or just someone who needs an extra hand. It’s never mattered how much someone has, where they came from, or even if you argued with each other yesterday, if you need help, it’s just there. It’s never expected or asked for, it’s just second-nature. I know that sense of community isn’t an uncommon thing for small towns, but having the mines outside our doorsteps and the different disasters throughout the years has made our bond of solidarity and camaraderie a bit stronger than most people ever get the privilege to experience.
Many don’t realize the work and efforts put in by our past generations to make Fernie what it is today. Everyone is more than welcome in Fernie but we shouldn’t forget why this town is even here, or how the spirit of Fernie was developed in the first place. Some seem to think the “locals” dislike the newcomers. We don’t. But our home is much, much more than just a playground to enjoy on the weekends.
What makes you proud to be Canadian?
I’m proud to be Canadian because of our quiet patriotism. The ability Canadians have always had to be strong and fight for one another and our country. The ability to have pride in our heritage, our nationality, and our sense of belonging without feeling the constant need to plaster it everywhere or the need to announce it just to prove that it’s there. We are proud of our country. We know we are, we know our neighbors are, yet we don’t feel the need to constantly remind everyone else that we do. It’s just an innate part of who we are.
What is your Fernie story?
The first of our family came here before the rails were laid and before the town had even chosen a name. At that time, it was nothing but a handful of log shacks up Coal Creek, a few men digging for coal, and a few people hoping this would be where they and their family could call home. It was. The rest of my great-great grandparents came a few years later once the mines officially took off and not many of us have left since.
All of my great-grandparents were alive when I was born and most of them were still around while I grew up. Now with my niece and nephew, we’re on our seventh generation here in Fernie.
Fernie is family. Whether it’s the family you’re related to by blood, or the family-friends you have met through the years. What started with just a few men quickly grew into a bustling town, but most didn’t call our town home until their families joined them. All of the people who have called Fernie home through the years -then and now- have helped to build and shape our town into what it is today. That is why we’re so happy to call ourselves locals, and why so many decide to stay and become locals. Fernie, it’s people, its history, and its future, are definitely something all of us should be very proud of. I know I am.