Historical Photos from Fernie, British Columbia

The town of Fernie, located west of the Crowsnest Pass in British Columbia, is named after William Fernie who, along with Colonel James Baker, were the two responsible for establishing the original coal mines in the area. These men struggled for ten long years trying to raise funds to develop the mines and the railroad that was needed to transport the coal out of town. They finally achieved their goals in 1897 and the Canadian Pacific Railroad arrived a year later. From that point, the town began taking shape, with people constructing homes, businesses, estates, stores, and offices.

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First Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive into Fernie, British Columbia, 1898

Chalk it up to bad luck, or something more sinister, but a rash of disasters plagued the town in the early 1900s. Government subsidies were needed to prop the town up during The Great Depression until new Japanese markets revitalized mining. The coal industry was revived and remains a pillar of the town’s economy to this day.

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Fernie, British Columbia, 1899

In addition to coal, tourism plays an important role in Fernie’s modern economy, but was also a minor player in the past. Snow Valley Ski Development, a locally-owned company, was opened in 1963. This early ski hill, coupled with a bid to host the 1968 Winter Olympics, laid the foundation for the current Fernie Alpine Resort, that brings folks from all over for world class skiing and snowboarding. The summer months feature wonderful opportunities for mountain biking, camping, hiking, fly-fishing, and more.

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Fernie, British Columbia, 1899

Take a stroll back in time with this collection of historical photos from Fernie’s earliest years. And remember, as the official tourism website states, “Fires, floods, mine disasters, and even a curse did not deter people from forging a good life in Fernie, British Columbia.”

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Victoria Avenue, British Columbia, 1899
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Victoria Avenue, British Columbia, 1899
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Coke ovens, British Columbia, 1899
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Camel mountain and Elk River, British Columbia, 1899
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Mountain Fernie and Elk River, British Columbia, 1899
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Canadian Pacific Railway mill on Elk River, British Columbia, 1898
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Victoria Avenue looking north, British Columbia, 1898
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Fire, British Columbia, 1908
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Coal mines, British Columbia, 1899
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Trestle and screen house, coal mines, British Columbia, 1899
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Landslide on railroad, British Columbia, 1899
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William Fernie, British Columbia, 1899
William Fernie’s camp, Fernie area, British Columbia, 1899
Ruins of the Elk Lumber Company’s mills, British Columbia, 1908
Fernie, British Columbia, 1901
Three Sisters Mountain from Fernie, British Columbia, 1907-1913
Lizard Range, British Columbia, 1907-1913
Bus on Nelson to Fernie, British Columbia route. Run for Central Canadian Greyhound Lines, 1932
Roy Beavers’ snake show at fairgrounds, British Columbia, 1908
Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive 1344 in a train wreck near Fernie, British Columbia, 1910
Fire damage, British Columbia, 1908
Three Sisters Mountain, British Columbia, 1910
Train of logs at Elk Lumber Camp No. 3, near Fernie, British Columbia, 1910
Trinity Mountain, British Columbia, 1910
Elk River Canyon, British Columbia, 1910
Lizard Range, British Columbia, 1910
Elk River Valley near Fernie, British Columbia, 1910

The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives. Additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on each photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

Tyler Dixon
About Tyler Dixon 130 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.