The Arts Station became more than a dream for a handful of art enthusiasts when Canadian Pacific Railway donated land and the old CPR building to the City of Fernie for use as a community arts centre.
The CPR Station was built in 1908 after Fernie’s second fire. It is known to be the last surviving first-class CPR station of this design, as this construction was built especially for the Crowsnest Branch Line.
In 1986, the Fernie & District Arts Council began the renovation and restoration of this remarkable piece of history. A new foundation was laid and the building moved to its new location a few metres from its original home. Most fixtures in The Arts Station are restored originals, while some are replicas.
In October 1990, after four years of hard work by many volunteers, The Station held its grand opening. The Fernie & District Arts Council now operates with more than 20 volunteers who put in hundreds of hours each month to provide many of the services available to members and visitors.
The magnificent scenery of Fernie invites travellers to pause a while and admire the Rocky Mountains surrounding this charming town. Rich in history and heritage, the once sleepy coal mining town is quickly becoming an outdoor enthusiast playground.
When the skis and snowboards, golf clubs and fly fishing rods are packed away for the day, visitors can stroll through Fernie’s historic downtown to discover its carefully-preserved heritage buildings which carry a wealth of local history.
One outstanding heritage building is the Canadian Pacific Railway Station, dating back to 1908, after Fernie’s second fire. When railways ruled the world of transportation and communication, it was the centre of intense activity. One can imagine passengers in transit stepping out and strolling along the platform to breathe deeply of the mountain air while contemplating the awesome ring of peaks.
Today the station is still a busy place. Moved a few metres from its original site, renovated, repainted and refurbished, it is now The Arts Station, home of the Fernie & District Arts Council. The original lobby is a gallery for the display of works by local artists; the ticket office is a restaurant; the baggage room is a 100-seat theatre used by visiting and local performers. Quilters, painters, stitchers and weavers use the upper floor while photographers and pottery enthusiasts practice their crafts in the basement studios.
It is still possible for visitors to stroll along the platform, admire the peaks and sense the pulse of the new activities. A visit to The Arts Station is a rewarding experience – welcome.