Fernie Arts and Culture Guide Winter 2023-24, 23rd Edition | Page 3

The Communities of the Elk Valley

In the heart of the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains , the Elk Valley is a hidden oasis of verdant landscapes , charming towns and abundant recreation . For over 100 years , pioneers have travelled to the region , first in search of valuable minerals , and now seeking a sanctuary focused on family , community and the beautiful outdoors . Mining still forms the base of a thriving economy that has now diversified and welcomes a variety of artisans , small businesses , and an active year-round recreational and cultural tourism industry .
FERNIE is the largest and oldest of the three main communities in the Elk Valley . A town rich in heritage , award-winning architecture , and spectacular scenery , Fernie charms and delights all ages . Whether strolling centuryold Historic Downtown , exploring the unique geography , visiting artists and artisans or revelling in the packed cultural calendar , there ’ s something for everyone to enjoy .
Pop : 6,320 | Founded 1898 | Incorporated 1904
SPARWOOD lies in the middle of the valley and is the first community reached on entering from Alberta . The town ’ s name is derived from the local trees that were used for manufacturing spars for ocean vessels . The town was founded as a new home for the residents of the temporary communities of Michel and Natal . Several art murals can be seen here , depicting the strong connection to coal mining , with some by Michelle Loughery who was born in the area and went on to become a world-renowned muralist .
Pop : 4,184 | Founded 1966
At the head of the valley is ELKFORD , a small town with a passionate arts community . Writing , painting , photography , and pottery are among the popular endeavours , and wellknown glass artist Katherine Russell has a working studio here . Elkford is the gateway to the Elk Lakes Provincial Park , a remote protected area bordering Alberta ’ s Kananaskis Country .
Pop : 2,749 | Founded 1971
Credits : Writing , editing & layout by Rebecca Hall / Tourism Fernie Design by Claris Media . Images by Vince Mo , Emily Williams , Sparwood Chamber , Sparwood Museum , Fernie Museum , Matt Kuhn , District of Elkford , Fernie Alpine Resort , Nancy Stevenson , Kerstin Maier , Glenn Donald , Terry Hughes , Destination BC , Kari Medig – DBC , Mitch Winton – DBC , Morgan Michalsky – Wild M Photos , Jolene Miner , Charles DR Photo , Janaina Spady Photography , Jamie Inman , Eva Grace Photography .