Carolyn Doyle

Have you ever met anyone and thought, “Wow! They are so productive.” Like, you wondered how they got so much done, were still upbeat and positive, and able to function? 

I have, and her name is Carolyn Doyle. As a fellow business owner in Fernie, and one of many female entrepreneurs in town, we have supported and worked with one another for over 15 years. But it wasn’t until our daughters became friends in Grade 2 that I truly saw her, “let’s do it” attitude. 

It was the first year of COVID, the girls were in a new class. Not knowing many of the students or parents, Carolyn messaged to see if Aila would like to have a playdate with Suzy. From there, she introduced us to two other families with kids the same ages and we made it through COVID, together. 

Was Carolyn always this way, or was it an attribute she developed over time? 

Originally from Richmond, BC Carolyn says she doesn’t identify as a BC’er. 

“I grew up in the suburbs of Ottawa. 

In the original Orleans. I loved sports growing up, skiing, playing ringette and hockey, dancing competitively,” she tells me. “I studied biochemistry in University mostly because my brother did, thinking I would become a doctor like he did.”

During the summers, Carolyn worked at OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River and quickly realized biochemistry was a lot of work. 

“There was a lot more fun things to do, like becoming a raft guide and a kayak instructor!” she adds. 

It was at OWL that she first met Kevin Giffin, her future husband. 

After University, Carolyn travelled, spent a few years as a ski coach and instructor in Canmore during the winters, and completed a teaching degree thinking she might go into that… but the allure of Fernie got her (well, Kevin). 

Kevin decided to take a job as a ski patroller at Fernie Alpine Resort. Carolyn coached with the Fernie Alpine Ski Team, was an on-call teacher, and worked for Claude and Lillis at the Central. During these first couple of years in Fernie, Carolyn began to see an opportunity. She was a lover of Montreal style bagels but could not find any in town. It was 2008 when she started selling bagels at the Farmers’ Market and realized the demand was there… but how could she meet it? Creative thinking led her to reaching out to Val Hafke at Just Pizza to see if they could share space. This is where the Big Banger – the original breakfast bagel was born. 15 years ago this July, they opened Big Bang Bagels on 2nd Ave in downtown Fernie. 

Big Bang Bagels is an iconic business in Fernie not only because of its bagels but because of the community it has created. Carolyn recognized early on what it takes to create a tight and dynamic team. 

“The quality I have as a female – caring for people, being creative, and especially caring for staff is a valuable attribute. With the ups and downs with staffing and realizing that they need compassion and loving people to care about them, it helps me to help them.”

Carolyn is also super supportive of new and similar businesses in town. “I don’t see them as competition, they’re just a part of our community and I think we all feel this way,” she says. 

With Big Bang operating like a well-oiled machine, and as a mother of two Carolyn decided to take on other roles in our community, most recently she has become the President of the Parent Advisory Committee at École Isabella Dicken Elementary School, a committee she has been a part of for the last 5-6 years. 

“I really enjoy being involved, as what we do benefits every kid, not just the ones that are able to play hockey or go skiing. Every kid benefits.”

With her passion for sports, she has also been helping with her kids’ hockey teams and coaching with First Shift, a program designed to help kids get into hockey.

“It’s a very cheap opportunity for six weeks of hockey that provides all the equipment. Enrollment was half girls this year,” she shares excitedly. “I also help with Esso Fun Days, which is hockey targeted at girls which is organized through Sam Snell, the Female Coordinator for Fernie Minor Hockey.

“I enjoyed playing sports, it was part of my identity and how I met a lot of my best friends growing up. It kept me healthy both physically and mentally. I think it’s important for us all to be active, but there seems to be a lot of research showing that females drop out at a younger age and at a quicker rate than males. Research also shows females require more from sports than a physical outlet – a social connection, mental stimulation, so they just need more and it’s important that we try to meet those needs, so they want to stay in sport for longer.” 

Carolyn is very humble, saying she is lucky to have the privilege of time. 

“It’s important for me to use it to give back, because when you give back, you get so much in return.” 

I couldn’t agree more, and am so grateful for people like Carolyn who not only are generous with their time, but genuine in wanting to help and to make a difference. And I believe that yes, she has always been ’this way.’ 

For anyone interested in participating in PAC, they meet once a month on the first Tuesday at the EIDES library and there is childcare. 

“Come and hear about all of the great things that are happening at the school!”

1. When did you first arrive in Fernie and what brought you here?
I arrived in the fall of 2006, and I followed a man here – Giff. He got hired on Ski Patrol and we both love the mountains. We’re still here, he is still on Ski Patrol and we are still happily together. 

2. Who do you remember first meeting?
I honestly can’t say for sure, but I’m sure it was somebody cool. 

3. Do you remember your first general impression of the Valley?
I lived in Canmore the couple winters before moving here, and I love the way Fernie felt more like a real community, and not just a community of second homeowners and tourists. I also loved how close the ski hill is to town and how easy it is to go up for just a few laps. 

4. What keeps you here?
I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather live. 

5. Do you have a favourite pastime?
I love hanging out with friends, fortunately most of my friends also love doing the things I love outside, skiing, biking, rafting, hiking, BBQ’s, camping, all the things!

6. What time of the year do you love most and why?
This one is so difficult, but I think I like September/October. 

7. Where do you see or hope to see Fernie in five years?

8. How do you start your day or what is one of your daily rituals?
I’m one of those crazy people who wakes up at 5am without an alarm (often before 5).

9. Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about you.
When I was ten years old my life goal was to be in the musical CATS (it may or may not still be a life goal).

10. Quote to live by: I’m stealing this one from my Giff, “Don’t leave a good party for a better one!” which is why we will probably never leave Fernie, it’s such a good party!