By Phil McLachlan
Fernie was recently nominated for one of the best outdoor towns in Canada, along side three other close competitors.
The Great Canadian Outdoor Town was a competition between cities, hosted by Get Out There Magazine, showcasing the best of the best in Canadian outdoor living.
“To be labeled as The Great Canadian Outdoor Town, it’s a great honour, I feel very honoured and I think we all should be,” said Jikke Gyorki, Executive Officer of Tourism Fernie.
Also included in the top four Canadian outdoor towns was Squamish, B.C., Collingwood, Ont., and Barrie Ont. Praises were sung about Fernie’s unbeatable mountain view of the Three Sisters, as well as the many outdoor playgrounds it possesses including the slopes, which are appreciated in every season.
More than 100 trails in six different areas are accessible from town, which provide a range of difficulties. The Elk Valley Nordic Centre, Mount Fernie Provincial Park, Fernie Alpine Resort and the Island Lake Lodge were just some of the destinations featured in the town’s description.
Fernie has managed to maintain one of the lowest unemployment rates in the province, and constantly welcomes new residents and passersby to participate in its vibrant culture.
Kayaking and rafting were not left out, and the local fly fishing was hailed as, “Likely the best you’ll find in North America.”
“As a resident of Fernie, it’s an amazing place to be,” said Gyorki. “The people are very genuine and friendly, just very authentic. It’s a great place to raise your family, it’s very safe and welcoming.”
Gyorki has lived in Fernie for six and a half years, and was originally drawn to the town because of, ironically, the outdoor community and athletic living.
“When you first come into Fernie, you’re just so amazingly pleased with the views. But once you dig in and experience the historic downtown and be a part of the experiences that all of our small businesses provide – they have that real authentic story behind them, why they’re here as well as the passion of what they do – it’s a really special place to be.”
”It’s the people that really make Fernie what it is,” she added.
A skier herself, Gyorki believes that this sport as well as mountain biking are some of the biggest assets that Fernie possesses, but certainly not the only ones. Fly fishing, fat biking and hiking were some more favourites on her list. She also mentioned the spa and wellness community, which is a newer but constantly expanding culture which has been encouraged to grow.
“Because we live in such a beautiful, inspiring, clean and fresh environment, the spa and wellness scene has really grown in this town as well,” said Gyorki.
Gyorki truly believes that the title of Great Canadian Outdoor Town was earned, rather than just a title slapped on without much thought or consideration. She was also glad to hear that this was a decision made by a public voting process.
“I think we’re all looking at it like, we do deserve it,” said Gyorki. “We are a great Canadian outdoor town and we have so many special attributes that say and tell it.”
Speaking to those to who have maybe never experienced Fernie before, Gyorki said, “Definitely put Fernie on your hit list.”