Fernie emerged from the First World War with multiple controversies that threatened to tear their community apart.
Just over 100 years later, Wayne Norton chronicles the trials and tribulations of the B.C. city in his book Fernie at War: 1914-1919. The British Columbia Historical Federation awarded Norton with the Community History Award which recognizes local and community history.
The public is invited to Norton’s presentation at the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives for a concise and in-depth presentation on Fernie at War and history pertaining to Vernon Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. Admission is by donation. Space is limited. Pre-registration required by calling 250-542-3142. All are welcome. Books will be available for sale and signing.
Fernie at War explores what it meant to live in Fernie during the confusing and divisive years of the Great War and its aftermath. As a resource-based economy with unusually large and varied immigrant populations, and exceptionally high recruitment levels, Fernie was profoundly affected by conflicting impulses of labour, loyalty and ethnicity.
Demands for internment of enemy aliens, resistance to prohibition and moral reform, the consequences of natural and man-made disasters, the unprecedented banning of recruitment, and the western labour revolt were all issues that contributed to a war-time experience for Fernie that was more dramatic and more revealing of underlying tensions than that of any other Canadian community.
“Fernie at War is a fine example of how labour and popular history can be presented in an accessible and highly readable manner…” said Donna Sacuta, executive director of the BC Labour Heritage Centre.
Norton is a writer, publisher and historical consultant living in Victoria. He has written extensively on a variety of topics including music of the First World War, historic women’s ice hockey, prairie settlement, public health and the local histories of Kamloops and Fernie. He is the author of eight books and has published in British Columbia History, The Globe and Mail, BC Studies and The Vancouver Sun.