Five Year Reflections: “Making visible what is hidden as a seed.”

photo by Todd Weselake

Alongside the fifty years of lift access skiing we’re celebrating this season, five years seems miniscule. As Vanessa and I prepare for many more years, we’re taking the time to look back, remember the challenges we faced, the mistakes we made, and the many, many amazing lessons we’ve learned along the way. Upon reflection it’s not miniscule at all.

We feel very fortunate to be on this journey with you and in celebration of a five year milestone would like to share five of the biggest and most apparent lessons learned through Fixing.

1. Fernie is worth preserving.
“We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole of which these are the shining parts, is in the soul.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We learned early on that there are many facets of Fernie that make up the whole - the magical place we call home. Two of the most prominent and repeatedly sought after aspects of Fernie are the community and environment, and we decided to dedicate one issue a year to each from the beginning. Annually, April is the edition we dedicate to the environment and May to the community.

2007 Cover Photo taken by Kevin McIsaac, showcasing the amazing Old Growth Forest en route to Thunder Meadows Cabin.

2008 Feature Artist – Terry Parker.
“I have seen caribou in the thousands and never thought their populations would be threatened. I’ve never seen an Atlantic cod either, and we know what happened to them.”

2009 TOC shot by Todd Weselake – Apres Logging in Fernie BC

2010 Through the Lens by Kyle Hamilton
“Our impacts today will be around for many generations to come.”

2011 Feature Resident Casey Brennan
“I’ve learned that it’s so much easier to organize around a ‘no’ than around a ‘yes’. Perhaps it’s about change.”


2007 - “It was at the centre of our community over 100 years ago, and while other industries now operate successfully in this area, mining is still a central part of our community today.” ~ Krista Turcasso, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”

2008 Cover - John Macosko. “John is a genuine representative of the community of Fernie and the spirit of community we should aspire to,” said Gene Dwarkin, photographer.

2009 Cover – Rosemary Watson. “This town has a special feeling about it. It resists change but it allows change and it won’t be very much different in five or ten years from what it is today.”

2010 cover – Lisa Dawn Gover. “We work hard to preserve it. Make it better. Share experiences in it. Appreciate it. Capture it. This we an all understand and recognize in one another – and it makes us a community.” ~ Krista Turasso, “Editor’s Fix”

2011 – “Kids know they are being looked after and parents know that they are not in it all by themselves.” ~ Scott Dressler regarding the community of parents in “A Dad’s Perspective”.

2. One person can make a difference.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” ~Edmund Burke

We learned that one person can indeed make a difference, and that difference can trickle down and create a stream, flow into a river and eventually make its way to the sea. Over the last five years we have met so many individuals that have instigated change. Here are just a few that put themselves out there in the Fix and left a lasting impression.

Cory Graham, 2008 “Letter to the Editor”
“For the past several years my goals have all been similar, however I have recoiled away from the one thing I have been trying to do for sometime… put myself with my creative ideas and projects out there for others to experience. Shy by nature, and an already full plate with four children under the age of five, I have let that discourage me from taking a step I so desperately want to try. So here I am at the start of 2008 entering my 32nd year putting my intentions in writing for the world to see!”

Melissa Fleishacker, “Tell Me Your Story” January 2008
In January of 2008, Melissa Flieshaker bravely shared her story of battling cancer, beginning a column that led to many in the community sharing their own experiences. For example Ammie’s story of her own battle in June of 2008, “We are all given an individual path in life and many different challenges can be thrown at us along the way. These challenges can all be learning and growing experiences, changing our life for the better.” And Randal’s loss of a friend in June of 2009, “It was often the times of silence that communicated the most. The presence of a friend brought strength to us both, I was there for him but mostly he was giving to me. Nigel taught me and others the importance of humanity against all odds, taught us about the very tangible nature of friendship.” The awareness Melissa created through this column is apparent each and every June when the Elk Valley rallies together for the Relay for Life.

Sindella Sugden, “Fernie Abroad” August 2009
In June of 2009 Charmaine Lingard came into the office and dropped off a package about her daughter’s travels, wondering if we would be interested in an article. We were immediately enthralled. Sindella went from travelling with her parents (both doctors) around the world on a sailboat, to attending school for the first time on land in six years. After sharing with us the many problems of the world she had encountered at her young age, she added, “When somebody says I am weird, I think do you know what’s happening out there? If you saw what I did wouldn't you be a bit weird too? I have seen things I wish I hadn't. But I did and now my life is changed forever. For the better I think.”When we were celebrating three years, we asked readers which stories they liked most or remembered best. Sindella’s story resonated with many.

Laura Nelson, “Resident Profile” February 2010
I honestly believe that if not for Laura Nelson, we would not have a beautiful museum in downtown Fernie. After the sale of her bookstore, she stepped into the position of President of the Fernie & District Historical Society knowing full well that this massive project was about to begin. “I’ll do my best, but I’ll be winging it as I haven’t done anything like it before,” she said in the interview. With perseverance, vision, hard work and of course the help of many volunteers, businesses and board members, Laura helped the Historial Society to achieve its goal and open its doors in 2010. “I think this is really important as Fernie grows and changes as it will help to ensure that our distinct character is preserved,” she added. The new Fernie Museum continues to evolve as Laura leads the team into the next phase, including a new exhibit space.

3. There is strength in numbers.
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
~ Ryunosuke Satoro

Fernie Mountain Film Festival (FMFF)
This popular festival came to Fernie our first year of publishing and graced the pages of the Fix as a Featured Event in February 2007. With the help of the College of the Rockies’ MAST students and under the leadership of Jon Turk and Brian Bell, the event was a success and has continued to grow with the help of additional volunteers each year. FMFF now has an active board, a marketing campaign, and attracts feature films that draw enthusiasts far and wide. They’ve even added an additional evening dedicated to local film! This year the festival takes place February 23-25.

Fernie Search and Rescue (FSAR)
This organization has proved itself as a necessary and valuable resource to our community over the years, and has grown and evolved since its first feature in the Fernie Fix, February of 2007. For that article, I met with founding member and previous president Bill Wilcox and the current FSAR president Chris Thomas to learn more about the organization and their new location, next to the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. “Training a new, you and energetic group is key to the continuation of this non-profit organization, and having a sufficient operating space is integral to this transition,” I learned.

In May of 2010, Kirsty Morris featured FSAR in “Unsung Heroes”. She met with Chris Thomas, still president of the organization, and Simon Piney, the treasurer. This piece showcased FSAR’s continued growth since 2007, with the establishment of a rope rescue team and developing a swift water team. With 100’s of hours of volunteer time, and a list of over 80 names on its call out list, FSAR’s growth is impressive to say the least.

Fernie Childcare Society
In our March 2007 issue, Mayor Randal Macnair wrote about childcare, declaring that it is “central to maintaining a community that thrives and grows in the 21st Century.” At the time, Roan Mac Con and Trish Luke were responding to the closure of the Childcare Choices Resource and Referral Centre by creating a local solution… the beginning of the Fernie Childcare Society. The following year the society worked towards raising money and securing a location for the day care, and Virginia Robinson gave us the update in our May 2008 edition. “”Here we are, gazing at Max Turyk like a couple of kids looking through the glass at the ice cream shop,” she said in an attempt to entice readers to get on board and help out.

In October of 2008, we learned in an article written by Ronan Mac Con that the society was thrown a curve ball regarding its prospective new home. Back to the drawing board it was, and it wasn’t until June 2009 that we were happy to include the news of the Child Care Society’s home on 2nd Avenue! “It has been a long time coming, and the communal sigh of parents desperate for day care will be a welcome sound for those who have worked so hard to make affordable child care a reality in Fernie,” Virginia said.

Fernie Trails Alliance
Made up of the Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club, the Fernie Mountain Bike Club and the Fernie Nordic Society, this umbrella organization “maintains responsible, non-motorized trail access on Fernie area Crown lands and private lands. Works with other outdoor recreation groups, government, private land owners and tourist businesses to enhance and maintain the Fernie area non-motorized recreational trail system,” and boy are we lucky to have them!

The Fernie Mountain Bike Club began in 2007 and first graced our pages in our May 2007 issue in an article written by Dave Hus. “ Fernie has grown, the land where our trails exist is seeing increased pressure. FMBC is learning how to best share this resource with others,” he said. Shortly after the alliance was formed with the Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club, which was already in existence as they realized they were working towards many of the same goals and there is strength in numbers. In July of 2008, we reported on one of its major projects – trail signage. That summer all trails in Ridgemont received signs to aid navigation the trail network.

Since then the club has developed additional trails, has helped to publish the Fernie Mountain Bike Guide, has embarked on trail signage for Mount Proctor, Mount Fernie and the Provincial Park, and continues to work on legitimizing trails and maintaining land use agreements. And a whole lot more!

4. A picture says a thousand words!
"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour."
~William Blake

Dec 2007, Mogul Smoker by Rob Plato
The Mogul smoker is one of the most recognized winter events, synonymous with Fernie. Rob was actually the photographer of our first cover image, and thus is synonymous with the Fix!

Winter Fix 2007, Powcow girls by Rob
Our first edition of the Fernie Fix – Winter Guide was a big hit, and this shot said it all about winter hitting Fernie.

July 2008, Jamie Hide
Somehow Fernie makes us all feel young at heart, and if not this photograph immediately take you back.

November 2008, Hockey in Annex park. Cover. Brian Pollock
It’s a rare fall when the ice freezes before the snow falls, and it sure makes for great pond hockey!

January 2009. Faceshot. Cover. Rob Plato
Fernie’s legendary powder.

March 2009 by Todd Weselake
We relish the days we find ourselves above the cloud line. You no longer have to imagine it at sunset.

November 2009. ToC shot. kids at dirt jump park with 3 Sisters by Kirsty Morris
There is just something about getting in those last rides in the fall as the snow line creeps down the mountain side, and how amazing to see the recognition of this in the youth of Fernie!

January 2010. Emily Bydon signing autographs.
Leading up to her last Olympics, the community got behind Emily and she was the hero of many a young resident.

February 2010. Emily Brydon
How could we not? Having Em on the cover made it hard to keep these issues on the shelf!

August 2010. Dylan jumping at dirt jump park by Nic Genovese
The month he was featured as an artist, Nic’s first shot was published in the Fix. And from there it has sky rocketed.

January 2011. Skier jumping through masthead by Matt Kuhn
Literally jumping into the New Year with a fresh shot from Matt Kuhn.

February 2011. Steve Morrison resident profile by Nicole Matei
This pic of Steve Morrison of the Fernie Ski Patrol and Canadian Avalanche Dog Rescue Association made it easy to finally recognize these individuals and their important work in the Valley.

March 2011. Sherpas at ILL by Mike McPhee
Island Lake hosted the Rocky Mountain Sherpas crew and its athletes, and although the “dumping” wasn’t optimal for shooting, there were no complaints.

July 2011. Wedding party crossing street by Kyle Hamilton
This cover shot received the most comments we’ve ever had, and also helped us to communicate the attractive and popular business of weddings in Fernie.

August 2011. Bike through masthead by Nic Genovese
The Wam Bam Dirt Jump Jam is probably the trendiest summer events. With this cover, it’s clear to see why.

August 2011. Pat Gilmar resident profile by Judy McMahon
One of many shots Judy took capturing pivotal community members, this shot of Pat is a perfect compliment to our August edition – the month biking takes Fernie by storm.

September 2011. Al building Trails by Nick Nault
People not only get crazy over riding, they get crazy over trail building!

October 2011 - Triathalon shot by Jamie Hide
In its first year, the Kids’ Triathlon was a popular event showcasing the community of families in Fernie.

5. Fernie People like to Giv’Er

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”
~ Thomas Carlyle

How many people do you know who have their hands in multiple pots and/or are pushing the envelope in their respective field? For such a small community, Fernie produces (and attracts) numerous people of this nature. And I don’t think it’s surprising – living in such an epic landscape is inspiring, being surrounded by supportive people and an amazing community is encouraging, and sharing stories is rewarding regardless of the outcome, because you know that you gav’er and that’s what is celebrated. These are just a few of the people that regularly shared their journeys with the Fix over the last five years.

Emily Brydon
We contacted Emily in November of 2006, while she was preparing for her racing season, to ask if she would write a column for a little magazine we were putting together. There was no hesitation. She wrote from the heart every month that first year, and from there she contributed through features and stories updating the community on racing and the organizations she was involved with including the Emily Brydon Youth Foundation and Right to Play.

In April 2008, she embarked on a journey to Ghana with Right to Play, and shared the following in the May 2008 edition: “I tried to embrace every experience and to give 100% to every child I met. Ironically, I felt that most of the time they were giving to me.” We think it’s ironic that Emily sent us the following, since it is us who are truly grateful.

“The Fix let me tell my story, share my journey and express my dreams and goals. It brought the Olympic Games to your doorsteps and coffee tables and EBYF to your hearts. It has done so much for me on a personal level that I will be forever grateful.”

Angie Abdou
First featured as an artist in 2007, Angie soon after approached us to write “Litpicks”, a book review column. All the while, Angie was working towards her PhD, teaching at the College of the Rockies, and writing The Canterbury Trail. Along the way Angie was a finalist in CBC’s 2011 Canada Reads competition, with Georges Laraque defending her first novel The Bone Cage on the panel. In August of 2011, Angie’s The Canterbury Trail was in the running for Scotiabank’s Giller Prize Readers’ Choice, and just this November it was a finalist in the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in the Mountain and Wilderness Literature category.

“If I had to pick one word to summarize my feelings about the whole experience, I’d choose gratitude.” “Abdou’s LitPicks” March 2011 Issue.

Dr. Paul Attalla
Who competes in events such as the TransRockies and the 24 Hours of Adrenaline to train for a race rowing across the Atlantic Ocean? In November of 2007 we featured a man who did just that in “Mind Over Matter”. In that piece Paul Attalla disclosed that he had been working towards this goal for over seven years. After 72 days and many ridiculous circumstances, Paul arrived at the English Harbour in Antigua where his family and a large crowd greeted him. In June of 2011, Paul set off on another epic journey – the Tour Divide. For 17 days, we followed dots on a website as Paul made his way from the Mexican border to Banff, Alberta along the Continental Divide. When the race took him through town, we stood street side with tears in our eyes, amazed at his perseverance.

Michael Moore
“Shut up in Pedal” was a feature in February 2007, a first person narrative of a journey on bike through one of the world’s driest deserts in Chile.

“Why do we do the things we do? Some might say to prove that we can, while others might say to prove that we can’t,” Mike said. “I now know that I never could spend more than four weeks in the dessert riding a bike, something I didn’t know before.”

In February 2011, five years later, Mike was featured in “Racers’ Corner” as he was training for yet another epic adventure – the Sinister 7. “There is something about a race that brings out more in you than you ever thought you had.” Mike completed the Sinister 7 July 7, 2011 in under his goal time (of under 23 hours).

Rino Pace
Rino was born and raised in Fernie and was an instigator in bringing the popular Hot Tub Time Machine here as location manager. Since 1988, Rino has been location manager on numerous films and TV series, including Bird on a Wire, Unforgiven, Legends of the Fall, Along Came a Spider, Catch and Release, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Inception and most recently The Big Year. Hot Tub Time Machine took Fernie by storm in spring of 2009 and the off season in Fernie was never busier.

“We travelled to every ski town in BC and Alberta, and Fernie was the only town with the ski hill positioned at the end of the street – the money shot for the film. It was pretty cool to film in my hometown.” Rino Pace, “Feature Resident” June 2009 Issue.

Dr. Mike Rumpel
From “Racers’ Corner” in May of 2010, to “Feature Resident” in 2011, Mike Rumpel is another resident that likes to push the envelope – whether on his bike at a 24 Hours of Adrenaline race or volunteering with Chiropractors with Compassion in Nairobi, Kenya. “I went to places that rocked my core,” he said in an interview this October 2011. “The human spirit prevails regardless,” he added as he remembers the kids being kids despite the “tragedy that appears to be their life.” Mike has continued plans to race and be involved with this organization.