Fernie and the Elk River have a short history and a long history.
For the most part, the Ktunaxa did not traverse the valley on their way to the prairies and their bison hunts. The preferred route was Kinandish (correct on site) Pass, one valley to the south. With the valley and pass at a lower elevation, the path opened earlier in the year and there held less snow in the winter. Twice a year they hunted bison. In the summer, whole villages traveled to the prairies and joined in the hunt. In the winter, only the men traveled to hunt.
What is commonly referred to as the Ghostrider today, the Ktunaxa believed was a brave who stayed too long in the valley and was placed on Hosmer Mountain as a warning againt greed by the Three Witches (now the Three Sisters)
In the late 1800’s, William Fernie discovered high-grade coal in the valley and with partners persuaded the Canadian Pacific Railroad to push through the valley opening the local economy to markets in the east and west. With the railroad, the coalmines expanded providing coal to the steel mills in the eastern provinces and eventually to international clients. Today the Elk Valley is the largest exporter of high-grade metallurgical coal in Canada. One third of the total tonnage annually shipped from the Port of Vancouver is Elk Valley coal from Teck Coal.
As the coalmines prospered, local residents discovered they lived in a truly special place. Long warm summers encouraged hiking and mountain biking. In winter, storms drop metres of snow on the Lizard Range, giving Fernie Alpine Resort consistent and plentiful powder. The Valley sits in the convergence zone where the warm moist air from the Pacific storms hit and stall against the cold artic air on the prairies.Skiers flock from around the world to Fernie Alpine Resort. With programs like NonStop Skiing, Fernie built a reputation far and wide. On any given day you might hear four or five different languages and an equal number of distinctive English accents on the streets of town.
Today Fernie is far more than a coal mining town. While still dependant on the mining industry, Fernie matured into a thriving community embracing all manner of outdoor activates. There are literally hundreds of kilometers of mountain bike trails. Hiking trails equal the biking trails. In the winter, the alpine skiing at Fernie Alpine Resort is augmented by Island Lake Lodge and Fernie Wilderness Adventures, both premier cat skiing operations. The Fernie Nordic Society’s trail network is expanding every year and soon will connect most of the community in a single trail network, If you want to take off on your own, the mountain bike trails are perfect for snowshoeing.
The arts are an integral part of life in Fernie. The Arts Station supports several art guilds, offers workshops, a gallery and hosts concerts throughout the year. The Wapati Music Festival, Booked and other cultural events bring performers from across Canada to Fernie. The College of the Rockies provides a variety of continuing education opportunities to visitors and residents alike.
On the river bench overlooking the city, Burma Road Estates offers homeowners large lot privacy while handy to all the activities offered in Fernie.