Mark Brown was born in Fernie in 1967 to Ed and Shirley Brown. Both of his parents were born and raised in the Elk Valley. His father, Edward was a Fernie local while his mother, Shirley, was from Michel Natal. Mark had an older brother, Ed, who he says he got along with for the most part.
He remembers his childhood as a happy one, as he grew up enjoying the outdoor lifestyle and playing sports, such as hockey and baseball. Mark continued to play hockey into his teenage years which has led him to be an avid supporter of the Fernie Ghostriders.
One of the most recognizable faces in Fernie, Mark is the third in a line of butchers. His grandfather started the Fernie Meat Market in late September of 1926. Spanning nine decades, Fernie Meat Market is celebrating 90 years of business this year.
His grandfather opened the shop and raised his family in the apartments above the market. His father worked in the shop when he was a child and his mother worked as a phone operator for B.C. Tel.
Mark remembers watching his parents work in the shop when he was a child, and has been working at the market since 1980. After graduating from Fernie Secondary School in 1986, Mark began working at the shop full time, and eventually took it over from his father after he passed in 2011. He credits his brother and father for teaching him the tricks of the trade.
“I was born and raised in the shop,” he says, recalling memories of being placed in a milk crate while his parents worked.
Mark has many old relics and trinkets prominiently displayed in the shop. He thinks of it as a little museum and an homage to the store’s rich history in Fernie.
In 1991, Mark attended a friend’s wedding where he met soon-to-be wife, Tammy, who was a friend of the bride’s. After meeting her there, he called her up and asked her to meet for a cup of coffee at a local restaurant in her hometown of Cranbrook. Twenty-five years later, and the two are still together and enjoying each other’s company.
Mark still owns and spends time in his childhood home, on Third Street. Last year, a cat, Walker, joined their family.
Mark says he and Tammy love to travel, mostly to warm places. Having been to Hawaii three times, they are planning another trip this fall. They have also ventured to the Florida Keys and Jamaica.
When asked what his favourite three things about Fernie are, Mark didn’t have to thing long – the lifestyle, the scenery and meeting people.
“I’m a people person,” he laughs, saying he enjoys saying good morning to as many people as he can. He says if he doesn’t recognize someone right away, he knows he will get to know them in time.
Mark is proud the Fernie Meat Market is going into its 90th year of business and he is hopeful the business will continue. Ideally, he would pass the knowledge and tricks of the trade down to someone else one day to take over.
With a quick smile, a kind heart, and a memory for everyone’s name, Mark Brown is an icon of Fernie, and is this week’s Face of the Valley.