In a lot of ways, writing this farewell editorial feels like penning a ghost letter. By the time it is read by the people whose names I’ve come to know and faces I’ve grown to recognize, Fernie and the wonderful experiences it taught me will be in my rear view mirror as I drive back to my hometown of Vancouver.
One of my first memories of Fernie upon arriving here one year ago, fresh out of university, was slowly revolving in a circle in the Ridgemont neighbourhood and seeing mountain after mountain after mountain. Those jutting landscapes still continue to amaze me and will be just one of many wonderful things I’ll be able to recall from my time as a reporter in this beautiful little town.
I will miss the coffee shop workers who know me by name and order, I will miss compliments while standing in the grocery store lineup after a new paper is published for the week, I will miss floating down the Elk River in the summer and seeing the town resemble a picture perfect postcard when blanketed by snow in the winter.
Working in a two-person newsroom in a town as small as Fernie both allowed me and forced me to get into the community and get to know the people who make this city everything I’ve come to know it to be — warm, passionate, tight-knit and always ready to just “giv’er” at any occasion.
Over the past year, I’ve been to more bike races than I can count, cheered at Ghostrider hockey games, watched Avalanche City Roller Girl derby matches, seen trucks slam into one another just for fun, climbed to the top of a firefighter’s ladder just for the view, danced under an explosion of fireworks at Wapiti, drank beer on every patio that lines 2nd Avenue, met and spoke with Olympians, connected with families dealing with childhood illness, covered a municipal election, and bought my first pair of actual winter boots.
I feel like this job gave me an excellent opportunity to connect and get to know a community I will miss and will always recall as a huge year of growth in my career and my personal life.
The ladies in the office who welcomed a youngster reporter from the city and who made Fernie feel like a home and not just a place to be — their laughter and their advice were like pillars of support I will always be grateful for.
As my window of time in Fernie closes, I’ll be leaving the door open for editor Katie Smith and my reporter successor Leah Scheitel to walk through. I hope they make Fernie a home the same way Kate Dingman and I did.