WILLARD RIPLEY

What makes Fernie special to you? 

Fernie is and was for me a place where I could come to live and work, a place where I could have identity and contribute to the community and benefit from the opportunities through hard work. It was the skiing that brought me here and everything else that held me close and kept me here. Fernie is a real town with working people and yet anything but a typical small town. The resort component in Fernie pulls the rug from under what could be considered a typical town in anywhere Canada.  The amenities a resort town makes available are considerable. Coupled with the cultural inputs provided by visitors, new and longer term residents from elsewhere all blended with the traditional residents of a working town make a rewarding mix. Just the kind of place you’d be proud to live.


What makes you proud to be Canadian?

Evenness, tolerance, adventure and opportunity in a grand and safe place despite the expansive nature of our country is Canada for me.  Everywhere in Canada is culturally different and yet the same, when you meet Canadians you know they are Canadian Eh.  I’ve lived in the East, the west and the North of Canada and felt comfortable in all that topography and culture with all the varied experiences available to me and that’s what I love about Canada.


What is your Fernie story?

I first came to Fernie in 1975 to ski and work at the Ski School and that’s what kept me coming to Fernie and initially kept me here. In the 42 years that Fernie and I have been involved with one another, I have worked and built up a business which I could have done elsewhere but not with the satisfaction I`ve had here.  I was a skier from a young age and the idea of living a life in a ski resort town was almost mythical and an opportunity to realize it was irresistible and so I did it. I was married to my longtime partner here and raised three kids trying my level best to habituate them with the love of skiing I had. I have loved my life here and am still finding new pursuits and interests to enjoy. I find Fernie a geographically central location for the style of travel I enjoy and am always delighted to get home to Fernie. I was Fernie’s first Griz, witnessed the morning after the devastation of an avalanche burying the chairlift, served on City Council and have been involved in changing the shape of wood in Fernie for almost 30 years. I’ve watched Fernie grow, change and improve.