DOORS OPEN
SEPT 16 | 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Following the 1908 Great Fire that destroyed much of Fernie in 90 minutes, Fernie rebuilt.  During Chautauqua, you will be able to explore 11 of Fernie's architectural gems and visit one of Fernie's early fire trucks.  Guides provide mini-tours throughout the day. 
Hosted by Heritage Fernie.
1 | FERNIE HOTEL

1 | FERNIE HOTEL

691 - 1st AVENUE

Once the Roma Hotel, the building once contained a bank that assisted Fernie's Italian community and rumoured bootlegging tunnels that connected the hotel with the Livery, both once owned by Al Rizzuto.
2 | FERNIE ARTS STATION

2 | FERNIE ARTS STATION

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In its early years, the Canadian Pacific Railway station was the centre of activity in Fernie whenever a train stopped to unload passengers, mail and other goods. As use of the automobile grew, rail travel declined and so did use of this Second-Class station. Rail passenger service from Lethbridge to Nelson through Fernie was finally discontinued in 1964. Since 1987, the Fernie & District Arts Council has used this facility as a performing and fine arts venue.
3 | ELKS' HALL

3 | ELKS' HALL

491 1st AVENUE

Chinese entrepreneur How Foon established several businesses in this building constructed in 1908. He ran a cafe, laundry and shoemaking shop on the main floor and rented apartments upstairs. It is one of several Chinese laundries that were established in early Fernie.
4 | FERNIE MUSEUM

4 | FERNIE MUSEUM

491 - 2nd AVENUE

o In 1905, the Crow’s Nest Pass Coal Co. constructed this building as the head office to manage its expanding coal mining operations. It also housed the offices of the Crow’s Nest Pass Electric Co. and the Morrissey-Fernie-Michel Railway, subsidiaries of the coal company. Constructed in cement blocks and standing on a spacious lot, the building survived the 1908 Great Fire and served as a place of refuge during and after the fire. It has served as Fernie’s City Hall since 1984.

The Miner’s Walk, established in 2011, is a fascinating glimpse into Fernie’s coal mining heritage. The walk features interpretive panels, sculpture, challenges for children, ironwork art from the Fernie Forge and municipal garden with picnic tables and benches.
9 | IGS BLOCK

9 | IGS BLOCK

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Symbolic of the confidence in the future of Fernie, this 1908 building once housed the largest and most completely equipmed business of its type west of Toronto. Amos Bliss Trites and Roland William Wood operated this as well stores in Coal Creek, Morrissey and Michel-Natal, three other coal mining towns in the Elk Valley. The third bui9lding constructed by the firm on this site, it has been restored to very close to the original design by its current owners, the Sombrowski family.
6 | KNOX UNITED CHURCH

6 | KNOX UNITED CHURCH

201 2ND AVENUE

The first Presbyterian church services were held in a general store i9n 1898. Many of Fernie's early residents were Presbyterians from Ontario and the Maritimes, and along with their pastor, they erected Fernie's first church that winter. The Presbyterian church, as with most of Fernie, was burnt to the ground in the 1908 fire.

The Presbyterian congregation rebuilt their church on the same site in 1909. On June 6, 1925, the Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregational churches amalgamated, forming the United Church of Canada. Needing only one building, the Methodists moved here and the building was renamed Knox United Church.
7 | FERNIE HERITAGE LIBRARY

7 | FERNIE HERITAGE LIBRARY

492 3RD AVENUE

This imposing Romanesque Revival building reflects Fernie’s importance as a government centre for the region; the engraved stone signs above the entrance to the Post Office and Customs Office are still in place. The building, for a time, served as the US consul office for the region.

Built in 1907, the building was gutted but not destroyed in 1908 Great Fire. An exhibit on the 1908 Great Fire is located on the landing of the main staircase.

Today, the building houses the Fernie Heritage Library, an active cultural centre.
8 | FERNIE FIRE DEPARTMENT

8 | FERNIE FIRE DEPARTMENT

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Fires have taken lives and destroyed property, but they have also focussed community spirit. Following each fire, the community has rallied together to rebuild and make Fernie even stronger and better than before. Much of what you see today in Fernie is a result of these disasters.

The young town of Fernie’s first major fire reduced the business section to ashes in four hours. From these ashes rose a “fireproof” downtown and the newly incorporated City of Fernie.

In the early morning hours of April 29, 1904, at Richards General Store, a small, unnoticed fire quickly grew and spread. With no alarm to call out firefighters and a lack of pressure in the water mains, it was difficult to contain. The chemical fire engine worked well until the only person able to operate it was overcome with the smoke. Fortunately no lives were lost, but by morning, the entire business section of Fernie was gone; sixty-five buildings along six blocks of Victoria Avenue (Second) and Baker Avenue (First) valued at almost $500,000 (1904 dollars).

It didn’t take Fernie long to recover. The Board of Trade met the next day in the Fire Hall. Discussions of widening Victoria Avenue and resurveying lots led to the ongoing topic of incorporation. Spurred on by the spring fire, the city of Fernie was incorporated July 28, and the first municipal election took place August 19.
9 | CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN

9 | CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN

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The Christ Church Anglican Parish was organized in 1898. Services were held in a variety of buildings, cumulating with the construction of a beautiful wooden frame church. It was destroyed by the 1908 fire, and today's brick structure took two years to rebuild. The cornerstone within the foundation contains a prayer, a hymn book and a copy of the Bible.
10 | HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC CHURCH

10 | HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC CHURCH

521 4TH AVENUE

The history of the church dates back to the beginning of Fernie when Father J. Welsh was sent from Cranbrook to hold masses for approximately 200 miners in 1898. Some of these miners donated one day’s wages every month towards the construction of a place of worship and volunteer parishioners completed this church in 1912. It was and still is home to Fernie’s largest congregation.
11 | FERNIE COURTHOUSE

11 | FERNIE COURTHOUSE

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Constructed after the 1908 fire, this Edwardian chateau-style building is the only such courthouse of its kind in British Columbia. The pro-style portico entrance is made of pressed brick and Calgary sandstone. The front vestibule is constructed of oak and stained glass. the court room is reached by a wide slate and steel stairway. the balustrade is made of figured metal and a golden oak handrail Dogwood emblems, BC's provincial flower, are hand carved in the upper part of the stair posts. The courtroom, including the panelled ceiling dome, is finished in an natural coastal cedar and lit by six lofty stained glass windows. Many say this is the most majestic court room in the provincial.
VIVA ITALIA, VIVA FERNIE!
SEPT 8 | 6:00 - 9:00 PM | FERNIE FAMILY CENTRE

Join us for a spaghetti dinner hosted by Fernie’s Italian community to kick off the 2016 Fernie Chautauqua and Fall Fair. Special guest, author Lynne Bowen, will share stories about Fernie’s early Italian community from her book, Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia.

Musical entertainment by Rosanne Anselmo and Mike Bruschetta.  In support of the Fernie Museum's Italian Community Memory Project.
LYNNE BOWEN

LYNNE BOWEN

WRITER AND HISTORIAN

Lynne is the author of the book, Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia. The book was awarded the F.G. Bressani Literary Prize in Creative Nonfiction in 2012. Lynne is from Nanaimo, BC and is one of the leading non-fiction authors of British Columbia. When Lynne Bowen enrolled at the University of Victoria to study history for the pleasure of it, she had no intention of becoming a writer. But three weeks after the former public health nurse and mother of three completed a Master of Arts degree in Western Canadian History, a group of coal miners approached her with stories to tell. Seven books, many magazine articles and a newspaper column later, Lynne continues to write historical nonfiction. She was the Rogers Communications Co-Chair of Creative Non-Fiction Writing at UBC from 1992 to 2006.