The weak pound has knocked the British presence in Canada: Fernie’s Inghams rep, Jamie, tells me numbers are down this season – although last-minute bargains in March are selling well. But Brits love this place, and several live here part- or full-time. One in particular, Bill Handley, has made a name for himself.
A retired banker who spends winter here with his wife Lynda, Bill was given a domain name – www.billhandley.com – by Irish friends who visit Fernie annually. He used it to start a daily ski blog, which is now followed by hundreds, especially by Calgarians on Thursdays and Fridays, when they want to read an impartial account of conditions before setting off on the four-hour drive for a weekend in Fernie.
If you don’t know Fernie, Bill’s detailed description of each day – inevitably culminating in a 4pm blast down Skydive – may not mean much. But for those who know it, it’s an entertaining daily snapshot of conditions, as well as enthusiastic descriptions of runs some regulars have still not found, and are not on the trail map. He is habitually accosted on the slopes with questions such as: “How do I get to The Brain?” or “Where is the entrance to Spinal Tap?”
If you’re in Fernie and want to say hi to Bill, you’ll find him hanging out with locals (many of them miners – that is the district’s main industry) in the Griz Bar for apres-ski. Or on the mountain he’s easily identifiable by the strips of gaffer tape holding his ski trousers together…
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