Fernie’s Neighbour: Morrissey
In this post about life in Fernie and the Elk Valley, Nomads on the Road takes a look at a close neighbour. Morrissey can be found just eight miles from Fernie.
The lush green grass radiants in the early evening light. In the distance, towards Elko, the clouds look threatening.
Cakato lies directly opposite the ski hill, in the winter the windows rattle when the ski hill’s avalanche control is in operation. Cakato Road leads out to Morrissey an old mining town.
Morrissey is like many ‘ghost’ towns in the Elk Valley. It sprung up around the coal mines and died once they became exhausted, unprofitable or simply too much effort to maintain. Yet the abandoned town also has a dark secret.
The town was the site of an internment camp during World War I. Canadian miners downed tools stating they were unwilling to work with Austrian, German and other European nationals who were fighting against the Canadians.
The camp was expanded to not only house ‘enemy aliens’ but also prisoners of war. Over 8,500 male ‘enemy aliens’ were interned between 1914 and 1920 in camps across Canada.
Morrissey, once home to a thriving coal mine itself, now sees dozens of mile-long coal trains pass through every day The coal mines may have died out here yet production in the Elk Valley is booming.
The area is home to the world’s oldest Cottonwood trees, some of which are over 400 years old. The trees now form part of Morrissey Provincial Park.
The Elk River is an abiding fixture of the Elk Valley, the river meanders through the valley. During the fishing season, dozens of boats and hundreds of fishermen try their luck on the Elk.
This lone elk was spotted on the road leading back to Fernie.