Earlier this month, the winners of BC’s 100 Best Buildings Contest were announced by the Architecture Foundation of British Columbia (AFBC), with the Fernie Courthouse taking second place in the Interior Region category.
“We all have our favourite buildings. Buildings with architectural lines we love, old houses with never-forgotten memories within their walls and shops that invite us in; buildings that hold special significance and have become a touchstone in our lives,” David M. Hewitt, AFBC Chairman said.
For local Blair East, the Fernie Courthouse was an old gem he grew up with.
“I grew up right across the street from the courthouse so I saw it every day of my life up until age 20 something,” East, who nominated the courthouse for the award, said. “It’s always been, to me, a very impressive building.”
East also commended the building’s location right behind Mount Fernie and the Three Sisters.
The contest marked 100 years of architecture as a profession in B.C. and received over 450 nominations. Individuals were invited to vote for their favourite buildings online. From those votes, the top 25 buildings in four regions, including the interior, Vancouver Island, and the northern and southern regions, were selected and a panel of qualified judges met to assess the nominations based on appearance, sentimental value, historical significance and originality.
“We [Fernie] got this beautiful designation,” Mayor Mary Giuliano said during the November 24 council meeting, noting that the City of Fernie will be receiving a plaque for their accomplishment.
The judges, made up of B.C. historian and heritage expert Michael Kluckner, journalist and architectural aficionado Shelley Fralic and award-winning architect David M. Hewitt noted that of the best buildings selected in the interior region, all the winners were community-gathering places.
According to the AFBC press release, the judges selected Fernie as the second best for its dramatic site and its remoteness from the province’s centre of power.