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A Town Called Fernie

Ski towns are like people — each one has its own personality.

As I travel from one ski town to the next, I am amazed by the distinct differences from place to place. At the heart of each lies a passion for skiing, but everything else (the hotels, restaurants, nightlife, architecture, snow, residents, and tourists) all vary.

Fernie, British Columbia, is just a tiny Canadian town — only 5,000 residents live here year-round. Long before anyone was skiing these hills, Fernie was a frontier town with working mines and a timber industry, too. A half-century after it was discovered by the more serious powderhounds, I was pleased to find that Fernie is still Fernie, complete with an historic courthouse and a brick-front main street named after Queen Victoria. Perusing the window displays on Victoria Avenue, I half expected the townspeople around me to break into a choreographed song and dance routine.

Yes, Fernie feels almost like the set of a Broadway musical, except that Fernie is quite real. Nestled among a circle of impressive peaks and inhabited by true characters, Fernie feels comfortably normal.

In fact, the only abnormal thing about Fernie may be the snow — all 37 feet of it.

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