DAN WHILLANS

What makes Fernie special to you?

What makes Fernie special to me is the feeling of being on the in of a really dope secret club that isn’t actually secret, nor a club -but a town where one can simultaneously present as a professional and ski bum.  This anomaly of a little town located seemingly in the middle of nowhere is home to an eclectic population of people that collectively have happiness at the forefront of their priority list. It’s full of dreamers and doers that possess a genuine support and energy that is contagious and inspiring. Someone once asked me if I would be able to open The Valley Social in a big city in the same way. I was quick to answer, “hmm nope,” I don’t think I would be able to open The Valley Social anywhere else in the manner in which I did. The place was constructed conceptually and physically by a wide collection of kind and creative Fernie beings. At the end of the day what makes Fernie special to me is the people.  I am proud to be a Fernie resident as it lumps me in a community that fundamentally believes in and promotes a high standard of living that is not deduced as a direct product of economic orientation. People don’t care how new your gear is, what you drive or what career path you’re on – they just care that you’re here for a good time.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

Fernie is a microcosm of our beauty country; we are given the luxury of dictating our lives and lifestyle to a degree that allows and encourages us to thoughtfully manifest wild and romantic ideas. I feel lucky to hold citizenship in a country that has such vast and intriguing geography and promotes exploration and makes relocation and travel accessible and exciting.


 What is your Fernie story?

I came to Fernie after deciding to leave a real professional gig in downtown Toronto. Fernie was on the mind after meeting some real fine Fernie folk while working Outdoor Education contracts. The goal was to come to Fernie for the season and return home to Ontario to start up, open and operate The Valley Social Company – a mobile espresso trailer concept. After securing a teaching job in Fernie, I found myself staying until June and launching The Valley Social Company mobile Boler which was originally named and intentioned for the Madawaska Valley in Southern Ontario, here in the Elk Valley. After a successful summer and being well-received and supported by the Fernie community we were gearing up for another summer season when we were presented with a unique opportunity. Long of the short I entered an essay contest and won the contents of a coffee shop in White Rock BC. Next thing I knew I was conceptualizing and implementing action to open a brick and mortar shop for The Valley Social in downtown Fernie which opened July 2016.  Conducting day to day business has acted as a catalyst to enhance the very relationships that drew me to Fernie in the first place. It’s all about the people.