Fernie & Elk Valley Culture Guide Winter 2020-21 Edition - Page 14



The fifth and final store featured a simple frontage and has stood on this spot since 1909
At 441 2nd Avenue is one of Fernie ’ s most notable commercial buildings . Not for its unassuming appearance , but for the history of the businesses at that site and the significance to Fernie ’ s commercial heritage . For over 120 years , the property has housed some form of general store .
In 1899 , Mr Amos Bliss Trites purchased a large portion of land along the west side of Victoria Avenue in order to establish his business in Fernie ’ s smart new downtown . The ‘ London & Liverpool ’ was established in 1898 as the first general mercantile in Fernie ’ s Old Town ( situated around Coal Creek , in what is now the Montane subdivision ) but Mr Trites was a modern man and clearly saw a bright future for his business at the new location . The new 3-storey wooden store was finished in 1902 . In 1903 , Trites addressed his concerns over the community ’ s company stores to the Crow ’ s Nest Pass Coal Company in Toronto . Along with his partner , Mr Roland William Wood , he purchased the merchant division of the company – including stores in Michel , Coal Creek and Morrissey – for approx . $ 125,000 and renamed the business the Trites- Wood Company Limited . The Fernie Free Press of 1902 reported that the new establishment had 10 departments of ‘ Eatonian ’ splendour and magnificence spread over two buildings , and the growth
The Trites-Wood Company built a 3-story mercantile on Victoria Avenue when they moved their business from Old Fernie .
of the great department store from its humble pioneer roots baffled description .
The stores thrived and were regarded as ‘ the pride and boast of Fernie ’ s citizens ’ but on April 29 , 1904 , the building succumbed to fire with the loss of $ 120,000 in property and contents . A new store , this time with an ‘ impressive sandstone façade ’ was opened on November 5th , 1905 . Sadly , that building , too , was lost in the fire of August 1 , 1908 , this time at a cost of $ 200,000 . The owners quickly set about installing ‘ fireproof cellars ’ to store new stock , and a temporary wooden structure was built on the corner of Victoria Avenue , ( where the Fernie Museum is now located ) to allow for a new store in the former site . The new , simple storefront held Fernie ’ s largest