A Legend is born – the Fernie Ghostrider
The first time I told a friend I was moving to Fernie they implored me to make sure I check out the Fernie Ghostrider. I looked at her with a blank expression.
“What the hell is the Fernie Ghostrider?” I asked, genuinely clueless.
She proceeded to explain something about a mountain, sunlight hitting it at the right angle and a shadow making out the shape of a horseman. I soon completely forgot about the Fernie Ghostrider, winter had set in and the sun was in short supply.
This summer, however, I returned from a brief sojourn in Central America. Summer had arrived in Fernie. The sun in the late afternoon illuminates a mountain; a legend is there for the offering, waiting to be told.
So what exactly is the Fernie Ghostrider?
On any given sunny summer evening the Fernie Ghostrider will make an appearance out of Mount Hosmer’s face.
Look closely enough and you will see the shadow of a horse and rider. Legend has us believe it is that of an angry Indian Chief and his jilted daughter chasing William Fernie.
William Fernie, so the legend goes, was courting a local Indian Princess in an attempt to discover the source of her black stone necklace. However, it is said, after learning of the secret location of the Morrissey Coal Seams, Fernie ditched the young princess, evoking the tribe’s medicine woman to place a curse on Elk Valley.
Fernie has long feared the curse was real, particularly after a series of tragedies hit the town. A fire in 1904 and again in 1908 reduced the town to rubble. While in 1916 the Elk River flooded and in 1917 there was a mining accident.
In 1964 the curse was officially lifted as members of the Kootenay Tribes, led by Chief Red Eagle and Mayor James White smoked a peace pipe.
So while the curse has been lifted, on sunny summer evenings, the ghost of the angry Indian chief and his jilted princess daughter still rides high above Fernie.
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