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New historical fiction book about Fernie hits local shelves

24 Dalton Avenue by Bob Sumka can be found at three locations in Fernie
Bob Sumka with his new book, 24 Dalton Avenue, A Fernie Legacy, on Dec. 7, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

A new historical fiction book about Fernie has hit local shelves.

24 Dalton Avenue, A Fernie Legacy, by Bob Sumka, is about the growth of Fernie and the Elk Valley, and the raising of a family between 1950 and 2000.

Sumka said he chose that theme because he was born and raised in Fernie, and wanted to write something about the town.

“I was just interested in how Fernie developed over the years, because I grew up in Fernie, and that interested me.”

The book has been in the works on and off for about five years, but the last year was the biggest push. Two weeks ago (from Dec. 7) he received the hard copies, which have since hit three locations: Polar Peek Books and Treasures, the Fernie Museum, and the Fernie Chamber of Commerce.

Sumka’s writing method involved looking at copies of The Free Press, taking papers out for each year that his book covered, and gathering information about what was happening in the town at that time.

“I would go through and I’d look at the titles of the articles, and what I found interesting, I would write down,” he said.

“I had an outline for the story, I would combine information I got from The Free Press, with the information of the family, and I’d put the two together, and then I would write the story.”

The family in the book is fictional, but live in a world based on actual historical events from the region. There are 51 chapters representing a year each.

He said he learned a lot about Fernie, and remembered actual conversations his parents had between 1953 and 1965 when he was growing up about some of the events he was researching.

“When I was reading The Free Press, getting the information, I would think back to when my parents were talking about it.”

One part he said he found interesting was about a period between 1985 and 1993 related to a coal mining company out of Sparwood that has since closed down.

Sumka said he has another book in the works, but is waiting to see how 24 Dalton Avenue goes before planning to get it published.

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