Fernie & District Historical Society

Our History

1964 – 1999

The Fernie and District Historical Society was founded in 1964 and incorporated in 1976. After years of collecting, the Society opened a museum in the former Catholic Church rectory on August 4, 1979 to coincide with Fernie’s Diamond Jubilee . The Society operated from this location until 1999 when the Church realized that it would soon need the property for its own purposes. The museum closed and the collections were put into storage.

2000 – 2012

It was at this time that a group of passionate individuals brought new direction and ideas to the Society. With no facility, they began the digitization of the archives, expanded the image collection, created the Fernie Historical Calendar, published the first Heritage Walking Tour booklet, and took the museum to the people with satellite exhibits around the community.

As part of Fernie’s Centennial Celebrations in 2004, the Society opened a temporary museum at 362B 2nd for the months of July, August and September. High attendance resulting from a visible, central location prompted the Society to continue operating a museum and visitor center from this location until 2010 in partnership with the Fernie Chamber of Commerce and with support from the City of Fernie.

In 2009, the City of Fernie, understanding the value a permanent home for the museum to the cultural life of the community, purchased the former BC Hydro building (the historic 1910 Home Bank) and entered into a 25 year lease with the Society. Planning and renovations began and the Society gained its occupancy permit in 2010 for a permanent home in its third location.

2013 – present

Over 50 community volunteers donated 6,000 hours to restore the historic building and help develop the main floor exhibit with the support from 22 local businesses. The Museum Project costs a total of $575,000. Major funders included the City of Fernie, Teck Resources, Columbia Basin Trust, Canadian Heritage, Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund, the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Island lake Resort Group, Heritage Legacy Fund of BC, Art and Ingrid Sombrowski, Igor Landa’s Construction and the Fernie Rotary Club.

The museum officially opened in September 2013. The Society continues to provide a range of visitor services that promote Fernie, past and present, and enhance the Fernie visitor experience.

Our Operations

The Fernie Museum promotes the living landscapes and cultures of Fernie and the Elk Valley-Crowsnest Pass region through the permanent and temporary exhibits.

The Fernie Archives Centre & Collections Centre protects and preserves over 10,000 documents, photographs and historical artifacts. The society follows heritage practices to ensure that these items are maintained for the future benefit of the community. The Archives Centre facility is provided courtesy of Fernie Scotiabank. 

Public programming includes education services, free and paid events including public lectures, tours, and various community engagement efforts, plus larger festivals such as the annual Fernie Chautauqua Festival. 

Our Strategic Direction

The Fernie Museum is a vibrant, community-based cultural institution which integrates regional history, art and culture to understand, communicate and preserve what is unique about our community and region.

Our work drives four strategic outcomes:

Building Community
Fostering a sense of community by engaging residents and visitors and creating meaningful cultural and social experiences.

Building Place
Fostering a positive sense of place and pride for residents and visitors alike.

Building Memory
Developing and providing access to the museum’s diverse collections and sharing community stories.

Building Sustainability
Adopting long-term financially, operationally and environmentally sustainable practices.