All photos by T. Hynd
Now that the scaffolding is down, take one step into the Fernie Museum and you’ll see the building got more than a fresh coat of paint. What was once an open space with temporary exhibits is now an impressive display incorporating refurbished timber, steel and artifacts with themes like ‘Work hard, Play hard’. The permanent display used recycled materials and local contractors as much as possible including the timberwork done by River City Woodworks.
Mike Pennock is one of the volunteers who can show visitors the new display that will soon include touch screen interpretive stories of four Fernie locals. Fernie Faces illustrates Fernie history through their eyes, personalizing each story.
The exhibits are well thought out as the views from the large windows are incorporated into the stories. The picturesque view of the Three Sisters holds the Ghostrider legend and next year will mark fifty years since the curse was lifted from Fernie.
There are displays of working hard as a housewife and a miner along side enlarged photos of people snowshoeing in the 1930’s, fishing, hunting, playing hockey and skiing.
A timeline shows the progress of Fernie including the original vault door from the House Bank that swindled locals of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which now leads to the elevator. The ‘Celebrating Fernie’ display is currently open on the second floor for the month of August.
The renovated museum has original oak flooring from a house in West Fernie. Used diffusers from previous ceiling lighting are now etched glass signs. One etched statement echoes the pull of Fernie in a comment collected during the centennial celebration in 2004: “I came to work in Fernie for six months and as soon as I do, I’ll leave.”
Interactive stations for adults and children are receiving finishing touches for the September grand opening.
A lot of thought and planning has gone into this three-phase project. When the museum took possession of the building in 2009, phase one focused on safety by upgrading the electrical and plumbing. Designing, constructing and installing the core exhibit was phase two. Phase three was the exterior work started last year by Mason Jason who replaced the base course sandstone and Birdhouse Renovations worked on the cornices, followed by the painting completed this July. With extensive funding from numerous contributors, Pennock pointed out the City of Fernie made the museum possible by purchasing the building and leasing it to the museum for $25 for 25 years.
Volunteers continue to provide tourist information in its prime downtown location. For more information, go to www.ferniemuseum.com.