From the soundless cast of the fly-fisher seeking wild cutthroat, to the fearless run of the winter warrior cutting powder atop the summit, to the focused athlete pushing their limit on foot, bike, or whitewater Fernie is home to those who live without limits.
Fernie is sheltered in the Elk Valley, on the eastern approach to the storied Crowsnest Pass in the southeast corner of British Columbia. It is cradled in the arms of the Rocky Mountains; next to the hearts of its maternal protectors: Three Sisters, Klauer, Fernie, and Proctor Mountains. To the northeast, Mount Hosmer displays the shadow of the legendary Ghost Rider cast on its southern face, and Fernie Ridge, Morrissey Ridge, and Lizard Range stand unified to safeguard the wee town. Due to its brawny setting Fernie is for the bold of spirit.
It is a pioneer town, with an unyielding character that was built by the wealth of coal seams hammered into purpose since the Jurassic Age. Fernie is fixed upon the Elk River. From the alpine waters of the Elk Lakes, near the continental divide, the Elk River chatters through the townsites of Elkford, Sparwood, Hosmer, Elko, and Fernie. Swollen by tributaries the abiding Elk tracks its course through the backbone of the Elk Valley joining Kootenay River and profiting Lake Koocanusa.
It is this mountainous venue and the river that feeds the valley that makes this land legendary. In the last years of the 19th century prospectors William Fernie and Colonel James Baker established the Crow’s Nest Pass Coal Company then pushed for Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to open the Valley to the world. Fernie was formally established in 1898, and incorporated in 1904 due to its proximity to the mighty coal crop. In the early days hardy miners pitched their temporary lodgings in the future townsite; supply shops sprung up and living began in what would eventually become known as “Old Town”. The town itself holds a unique appeal due to two devastating fires that leveled buildings in 1904 and again in 1908. Undeterred, leaders of the day ordered construction materials to be fire-resistant and thus, out of the ruins, grew a Victorian wonderland of slate, granite, and bricks along broad avenues with dramatic mountain vistas.
It is this uncommon blend of beauty, industry, and recreation that has attracted unique townsfolk and built an enthusiastic tourist following. Fernie is a thriving community of almost 5,000 full-time residents; this doubles during ski season. The coal mines that gave Fernie life continue to provide with five open-pit mines that pump a third of the world’s steel making coal into the market. What’s more, a sustained growth in tourism has matured beyond the ski hill to include fishing, mountain biking, whitewater boating, camping, and glacier exploration. Each person who finds their way along the Elk Valley to Fernie embraces the untamed lifestyle of nature, absorbs the cultural opportunities at the cherished Arts Station, or simply sits and watches the world go by. What each has in common is: they write their own lives. Welcome to Fernie, the adventure is yours…