FERNIE, BC — Back in the early years of the last century, Fernie was nearly levelled twice by two devastating fires—one in 1904 and one in 1908. To prevent this from happening again, the town fathers implemented a law requiring all buildings to be made of brick or stone, resulting in some amazing architecture.
“There are lots of restoration projects, particularly where they are working to use old buildings as new projects,” explained local developer, Simon Howse, who has worked his own brand of magic on the town’s defunct school turning it into 901, a luxury condo resort in the heart of old town.
Funky spots for dining and imbibing
Many of the restorations and redevelopments have resulted in a great collection of hotels, pubs and restaurants, including Sawai Thai—a fantastic place for those who enjoy Thai food.
Sawai Thai is located in The Royal Hotel, a turn-of-the-century hotel that still offers what it did in the early years—a place to sleep, a place to eat and a place to drink. And while many of today’s hotels offer the same thing, when you step into the Royal, you know you are stepping back in time simply by its character and architecture.
One thing that always gets me when I visit the Royal is the men’s washroom—it’s the only place I know of that has leather headrests above the urinals. It was some smart dude who thought of that.
The Fernie is another turn-of-the-century hotel that has been restored, and though it has some modern designs, you will still find remnants of the original building throughout. The Fernie is a staple, a place that everyone goes to, and has been going to for a long time—simply because it’s a great place to hang out.
Doc Pow’s recommended list
Here is an insider’s tip to anywhere in a Western Canadian ski town—you'll find the locals wherever the cheap beer is. In Fernie, on a Monday night, head to the Brickhouse. Beer is only $10 for a jug—it will be busy there and you’ll definitely have a good time.
Some others that made my short list include:
• Lost Boys Café: a stellar place to score a baked potato – with all the fixings like broccoli and cheese or turkey, complete with stuffing and gravy over the potato – one of the most unique lunch ideas found on a ski hill – $7-$12
• Red Tree Restaurant is a great spot for dinner in town—very fresh deco with an abundance of local artists’ paintings and pictures on the walls. Dinner items range from $12-$22, with incredible gourmet chicken burgers and funky vegetarian dishes like a wild mushroom and spinach strudel.
Other hot spots in Fernie include the Elevator—pricey but worth it, the Corner Pocket—reasonably priced and the Curry Bowl, also reasonably priced with the best selection of world beers anywhere. Rip N’ Richards has been a locals favourite for years as is the Blue Toque, a must-go for breakfast.
In need of a waterslide
Fernie and Fernie Alpine Resort offer a lot of accommodation options—from clean and friendly hostels to swanky holiday chalets and everything in between.
Our base camp was the Fernie Stanford Inn, located just at the edge of the town, on way to the mountain. The hotel and condo options include access to a pool, outdoor hot tubs, a 160-foot waterslide and when it comes to dining, I highly recommend dinner in the hotel’s Grizzly’s Den Pub.
Order up some of the fantastic East Indian dishes for all the fuel you’ll require for those big days of enjoying all the festivities both on-hill and off, including Griz Days which kicks off the first weekend of every March.
“It’s a really nice feeling to walk outside to mountains 360 degrees around you,” said Sam Pomeroy, an ex-UK transplant.
He has something there. When you are in Fernie, you are surrounded by mountains, and it’s location and size makes it a great base camp for day trips to either Castle Mountain or Kimberley Alpine Resort, both within a couple of hours drive.
To make reservations and find out more about Fernie Alpine Resort and the Town of Fernie, visit www.skifernie.com.
Check out this video which showcases the unique bingo night at Bulldog's North Bar and Grill.
For more stories and detail on Fernie check out our SnowSeekers' destination page.