Straddling the ice-clear Elk River among knife-edged mountains, the hip ski-town of FERNIE is one place where first impressions should be ignored. Look beyond the lacklustre condo-, motel- and mall-lined highway and you’ll find pleasant, leafy streets lined with small, wooden houses that pave the way to an attractively low-slung brick downtown along 2nd Avenue. Here it’s immediately obvious that though Fernie has long depended on logging and open-pit coal mining, its outdoorsy appeal – primarily to skiers and mountain-bikers – has brought in a more liberal demographic. Art galleries, gift shops, coffee shops, outdoor-gear stores and health-food shops thrive in this upbeat little town.

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