Coal was discovered in the Crowsnest area
of Southeastern British Columbia more than
100 years ago by prospectors looking for
gold. In 1897, William Fernie reported a
major discovery which led to the formation
of the Crows Nest Pass Coal Company. The
mining community which emerged in 1897 was
named Fernie, in honour of the miner whose
efforts helped to establish the new industry.
An extremely interesting legend concerning
William Fernie, founder of the city, met
a tribe of Indians during one of his prospecting
trips. He noticed one of the Indian chieftain's
daughters was wearing a necklace of shining
black stones. Knowing that these stones
were coal, William Fernie asked as to their
source. The Indian Chief agreed to show
Fernie where these had been found, upon
condition that the prospector would marry
the Indian maid. After learning the location
of the coal deposits, William Fernie refused
to marry the Princess. The Indian Chief
was angered by this and he laid a curse
upon the valley stating that it would meet
with Fire, Flood and Famine.
As a reminder of the curse, the Ghost of
Mount Hosmer can be seen each sunny summer
evening on a rock face high above the city.
The "ghost" is a spectacular shadow
in the form of a rider on horseback.
The first fire which occurred in 1904
destroyed a large portion of the wooden
of the city. The largest disaster, however,
came on August 1, 1908, when a forest
practically destroyed the City of Fernie.
Soon, Fernie was rebuilt. In 1916 disaster
struck when the Elk River overflowed its
banks and flooded sections of West Fernie.
The near famine conditions of the Great
depression made Fernie people believe
curse would never end.
On August 15, 1964, members of the Kootenai
Tribes, headed by Chief Ambrose Gravelle,
known as Chief Red Eagle, assembled in Fernie
for the ceremonial lifting of the Fernie
Curse. Mayor James White made amends with
the Chief by smoking the "Pipe of Peace"
with Chief Red Eagle.