Keeping the Elk Valley active

Daniel MacDonald and Jaime Ellis are the owners of physiotherapy clinics in Sparwood, Elkford and Fernie. - Photo by M. Cole
Daniel MacDonald and Jaime Ellis are the owners of physiotherapy clinics in Sparwood, Elkford and Fernie.
— image credit: Photo by M. Cole

The Elk Valley is the dream location for a physiotherapy practice. The area is full of active people. People move here to enjoy activities like skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and paddling, but extreme sports mean frequent injuries and Fernie Physiotherapy helps keep people doing the sports they love.

Daniel MacDonald and Jaime Ellis bought Fernie Physiotherapy in 2009.

“We are the only physio clinic for 100 kilometres,” said MacDonald. “We don’t act like we’ve cornered the market. We like to work like if we were in the middle of the city people would still choose to come here.”

“We came to Fernie for the first time in 2004,” said Ellis. “We did the seasonal thing and ended up buying a house here.”

Ellis and MacDonald were living in Vancouver at the time and were making regular trips to Fernie to visit.

MacDonald began working for Sue Van Evra, who was the previous owner of Fernie Physiotherapy, when the couple had been living in Fernie for the winter.

“We became friends and Sue made a casual comment over dinner one night and said ‘let me know if you ever want to buy the clinic,’” said Ellis.

Ellis, whose background is in communications and public relations, looks after most of the business and marketing for the clinics. MacDonald, who received his physio education in the U.K., handles the clinical side of the business.

“Physiotherapy is a comprehensive form of conservative treatment. It utilizes both passive and active treatments,” said MacDonald.

He said treatments could include anything from soft tissue work and joint manipulation to acupuncture and dry needling.

MacDonald said that there is a lot of overlap between the treatments used in massage therapy and chiropractic.

“People come to see us to get fixed. Many people think that physio is for sports related injuries, but we treat everything. The majority of what we treat is chronic back pain and chronic neck pain,” he said.

Fernie Physio has many physiotherapists who have a variety of specialties like women’s health, pediatrics and spinal injuries.

Shortly after buying the clinic, Ellis and MacDonald opened a satellite clinic in Elkford.

“There was a big need for physio there,” she said. “And it made more sense to have two of our people drive up there than have clients make the long trip down here, especially in the winter.”

Earlier this month, the couple opened a Sparwood location.

“There was always a need but there wasn’t anyone to provide the service,” said Ellis.

The Sparwood Physiotherapy clinic is located in the space that used to be another doctor’s office.

The Sparwood clinic has two full-time physiotherapists, one part-time physiotherapist and two-registered massage therapists.

For more information on the Sparwood, Elkford, and Fernie physiotherapy clinics visit

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