Fernie, BC was recently recognized by the Ministry of Canadian Heritage a Cultural Capital of Canada, winning an award along with several other communities for “Innovative Cultural Bridges”.
Fernie, along with Lethbridge, Canmore, Drumheller, and Crowsnest Pass, AB was honoured for the joint community project, “Celebrating Canada’s Coal Culture”.
The project centres around several anniversaries which highlight the coal mining history of the region and provides a theme for arts and heritage development in large and small communities. Exhibitions and touring productions throughout the region will portray aspects of life as a coal miner and, in particular, the lives and work of Italian immigrant coal miners. Canadian authors who have written about coal mining will be profiled. The partners will also host conferences on museums, rural tourism, and preservations of industrial heritage.
As an award winner, the joint project will receive matching funding from the government up to $500,000 for the initiative.
Fernie’s rich history of coal mining began in the late 19th century; William Fernie, the town’s namesake, was instrumental in the development of coal mining in the area and was the founder of the Crows Nest Pass Coal Company. At one time, coal mining was the key driver of Fernie’s economy; many residents still work in the industry in mines located in the Elk Valley today. While Fernie’s coal mines are a thing of the past, visitors and residents can still see evidence of the old mines and townsites at the historic sites at Coal Creek and Morrissey, just outside of Fernie.
The Cultural Capitals program was introduced last year. In total, 25 different applications were received from communities across Canada in various categories.
The program was launched to promote arts and culture in Canadian municipalities. The program awards cities whose achievements demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the arts and culture, and provides funds to enable recipients to mount special events that highlight the importance of arts and cultural activities in our