Artist Roy Henry Vickers has been inspired by Fernie’s Ghostrider Legend and has designed a print of Mount Hosmer and the Ghostrider’s shadow. Vickers is best known for his limited-edition prints that are available online and at his exclusive gallery in Tofino.
The Legend of the Ghostrider: Lying in the shadows, a legend waits for the afternoon sun. On a summer evening, out of Mt. Hosmer’s face, comes the Ghostrider – the shadow of a distinctive horse and rider, the ghost some say of an angry Indian Chief and his jilted daughter pursuing William Fernie.
As legend tells it, William Fernie was courting an Indian Princess to learn the source of her sacred black stone necklace. It is said that after learning the secret location of the Morrissey Coal Seams, Fernie stopped seeing the Princess and the tribe’s medicine woman placed a curse on the Elk Valley.
Residents of Fernie feared the curse was real after several tragedies struck the town. Fire reduced the town to smoldering rubble in 1904 and again in 1908. In 1916, the Elk River flooded and in 1917 there was a mining disaster. A public ceremony in 1964 officially lifted the curse. Members of the Kootenay Tribes assembled in Fernie and Chief Red Eagle (Ambrose Gravelle) and Fernie Mayor James White smoked a pipe of peace.
Although the curse was lifted over 35 years ago, on summer evenings, the ghost of an angry Indian chief and his jilted daughter still rides above Fernie and their legend lives on in the shadows of the mountain.
Vickers visits Fernie every fall to hunt Elk and has become fond of the First Nations tale. “When you drive into Fernie into the fall, it is just a splash of colours of yellow and red and gold and brown wood of the cottonwood trees — and this beautiful river that runs through it all,” Vickers said.
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