Fernie & Elk Valley Culture Guide Issue 2 Fall 2016 - Page 16

BEFORE AND AFTER THE ARTS STATION From 1898 to 1964, the Canadian Pacific Railway train station was a hub of activity, receiving supplies and newcomers to Fernie alike. Today, it is home to the Fernie & District Arts Council, operating as the the Fernie Arts Station and celebrating 25 years as a thriving hub of the arts in the Elk Valley. At least two station buildings existed on this site to serve the C.P.R. line prior to the great fire of 1908. The current building, larger than its predecessors, was built after the 1908 fire and follows one of the standard designs developed by the C.P.R. for its station buildings. The Fernie station was completed in the spring of 1909, a time when the railway station was the centre of the economic and social life of the community, for here one received mail and freight and carried on business. Railway officials also decided that the station agent’s family should live apart from the daily railroad operation so private housing was provided instead of the second floor accommodations standard across the prairies. The station remained a hub of business and transportation for more than half a century until passenger service through Fernie was discontinued in January, 1964.  16 The C.P.R. donated the building to the City of Fernie in 1979, and in 1987 the Fernie Arts Council began the painstaking process of restoring the old station. The revitalization program included moving the building back from the tracks and renovating, painting, and landscaping; in 1990 the building re-opened.  The facility now houses a restaurant, art gallery, theatre/ performance space, and various rooms and outdoor space used by community arts groups.