Fernie & Elk Valley Culture Guide Fernie & Elk Valley Cultural Guide - Winter 18-19 - Page 13

Michael Phillips He sent a sample, along with a hand- drawn map of the Elk Valley, to a Dr. Dawson, and elicited the assistance of then-MP R.L.T. Galbraith to secure funds to cut a trail through the newly- discovered Pass. Phillips was keen to establish the trail and secure a cattle- trading route to Fort MacLeod as the “mines at White Horse had gone down to a low ebb.” William Fernie dismissed the idea, citing that “the Indians say there is no pass, and there is no use spending money to make a trail to nowhere.” His brother, Peter Fernie, was equally dismissive, saying of one of the coal seams “If that’s your coal I don’t think much of it.” Although it took several more years, Michael Phillips, along with William Ridgeway, eventually did blaze the trail all the way through to Fort MacLeod. At some point in the next decade, William Fernie had a change of heart about the potential of the coal seams. William Fernie In 1886, he formed a syndicate with his brother Peter, local MP Colonel James Baker, and his son V. Hyde Baker, and the Hon. W.F. Aylmer, following a thorough study of the coal outcroppings in the Pass. The following year, he led a prospecting party and staked out 10,000 acres of land around the Michel, Coal & Morrissey Creeks, each of which flow into the Elk River. Applications for railway lines quickly followed, and rail links to Cranbrook were established by 1898. The MF&M (Morrisey, Fernie and Michel) Railway was added in 1900 and Fernie was incorporated as a city in 1904. William Fernie retired to Victoria where he became well known as a philanthropist. He died there, a bachelor, on May 15, 1921. Michael Phillips lived out his life with his family on his ranch in Tobacco Plains. He died on June 22, 1919 and is buried in Roosville with his wife. William Fernie and Peter Carosella at the cut block. 13