Celebrating Fernie’s heritage

Fernie’s courthouse was built in 1909 after the Great Fire, with the finishing touches being completed in 1911.

(Left) An article from The Free Press describing the first court session in the new court house from the March 17

(Left) An article from The Free Press describing the first court session in the new court house from the March 17

Fernie’s courthouse was built in 1909 after the Great Fire, with the finishing touches being completed in 1911.

The courthouse is the fourth to serve the city. The third courthouse had been built in early 1908, but was destroyed by the fire in August.

The building was built by a local Fernie contractor J.A. Broley, and designed by George Stanley Rees who was from Calgary.

The cost of the new courthouse was enormous. The Free Press of June 18, 1909 reported that “while the winning bid was slightly in excess of $70,000.00 some changes in the plans will probably bring the cost close to the $100,000 mark.”

The community took a keen interest in the progress of the courthouse and often commented on its progress in The Free Press.

The first court session was held on March 16, 1911, with Judge Wilson presiding.

In August 2002, the last court session was held in Fernie as a result of provincial cut backs.

But in 2003, with the support of the community the City of Fernie purchased the courthouse from the province with the intent of filling the building with occupants and holding court sessions in the city again.

The courthouse is one of the tallest buildings in Fernie’s downtown core and can be seen from Highway 3.

It has been recognized as one of the most distinctive and visually attractive courthouses in the province, with one of the best preserved courtrooms in the province. M.C.