A Community Through the Ages
The Senior Citizens Club of Fernie & District, or the Seniors Centre, is one of those places that you just assume was always there; that building tucked behind Mugshots and across from City Hall. More than just a facility, the Seniors Centre is a gathering place for people of all ages, a place for exercise and games, a homemade meal, learning and sharing, and a fair bit of dancing at the Christmas party.
In 1958, Mark Branch and Howard Martin had a dream to create a place for people to gather to play cards, share a meal, and sing a song. The group soon outgrew the few tables in Harper’s Pool Hall and moved to the space formerly occupied by the New Moon Cafe but once again, they outgrew that space as well. After moving the Club to the Elks Hall in 1978 the members decided that these moves were inconvenient and in 1979 got to work on what is now the Seniors Drop-In Centre located on 3rd Avenue. After years of hardwork and dedication by the committed volunteers of the Seniors Club, as well as the generosity of almost every citizen and service club in Fernie donating to the project (updates on the building fund were printed regularly in the Free Press listing who donated and how much), the current Centre was constructed and opened in 1981 on the site of the old fire hall.
The Centre remains true to Mark and Howard’s original vision except now not only can you play a game of pool but you can also do Chair Yoga, Tai Chi, multiple art mediums, use the technology lending library, and much more.
The Seniors Centre, its members, as well as the public, have all felt the impacts of COVID-19 to the Centre over the past year. That is why the Seniors Centre continues to provide programs as able within health guidelines. Chair Yoga instructor Kim Genovese notes that, “It is exciting to watch the interest and enthusiasm grow with our chair yoga classes. The seniors have been able to connect movement with breath in a safe, friendly place which has been very important to their physical and mental health, especially during COVID.”
Untethered by the restraints of the current pandemic, the Seniors Centre typically offers 50 hours of programming a week and operates a delicious coffee and lunch spot Monday to Friday. You do not have to be a member of the Seniors Centre to join them for lunch as the facility is open to all residents of, and visitors to Fernie and dropping in is more than encouraged!
Community has always been at the heart of the Seniors Centre and the Club is proud of the contributions they have made to Fernie over the years. But they are also so proud of the partnerships they have with other community groups, their advocacy efforts for older residents, and the place that Fernie has in its heart for the Centre.
From a pool hall to an old fire hall, the Seniors Centre remains a beloved community gathering place where all are welcomed and laughter and friendship abound.