A Local's View of Fernie: Pierre Dupont, Owner of Le Grand Fromage
Out off all the ski towns Pierre has lived in, Fernie is his favourite. Find out why.
For the past 20 years, fantastic skiing and incredible snow have been my prerequisites when choosing a hometown.
In the 1990’s, I lived in Whistler, British Columbia. In pursuit of abundant, light powder, I moved to the West Kootenays, where I skied at Whitewater Ski Resort (Nelson, B.C.) and Red Mountain Resort (Rossland, B.C.). While the powder skiing at these mountains lived up to its widespread praise, I hungered for a major ski hill that combined big terrain with plenty of feather-light snow. I wanted the best of both worlds. In 2003, I packed my ski gear, ventured east to the Rockies and planted my roots in Fernie, B.C.
Hanging on the mountainside below the jagged, snowy peaks of the Lizard Range, Fernie Alpine Resort is visible from the historic streets of downtown Fernie. With the heftiest snowfall (up to 11 metres/37 feet), the most runs and the longest vertical in the Rockies (thanks to the Polar Peak lift, which opened in 2012), Fernie Alpine Resort is consistently celebrated as one of the best ski resorts in North America. Five alpine bowls, awesome tree runs and epic chutes make the skiing here amazing. For me, nothing beats shredding powder in the Curry Bowl – especially first tracks!
Life is better with good cheese
In life, I believe that you should do what you love. With an affinity for fine cheese, I opened Le Grand Fromage, a specialty cheese store in downtown Fernie. For many decades, I worked in the corporate world as a software engineer, systems designer and marketing guy. I jetted around Europe, Asia and North America for work, sampling local foods and unique cheeses along the way. Eventually, I turned my passion for cheese into a career as a cheesemonger and small business owner.
At Le Grand Fromage, we carry fine cheeses from across Canada and Europe. With 50 percent of our cheeses made in Canada, my goal is to introduce people to the outstanding products that are created in our own backyard, as well as to lesser known cheeses from around the world. When visiting the store, our customers are invited to sample various cheeses to determine what they like. Explore everything from firm, semi-hard, soft, creamy, pungent, mild and marbled to blue, goat and sheep cheese. Cut right off the block, you’re welcome to buy as much or as little as you desire. While my customers frequently quiz me on my favourite cheese, it’s impossible to pick just one. It just depends on my mood and the day.
Le Grand Fromage also sells foods that pair fabulously with cheese, such as artisan crackers, preserves, antipastos, condiments, tapenades, olives and pickles. All of our items are specialty goods that aren’t found elsewhere in Fernie. We also have a wide variety of food guides and cookbooks as well as raclette and fondue sets.
For people who thrive on mountains and an outdoor lifestyle, this small city in the East Kootenays is the ultimate place to be. Circled by the dramatic Rockies, your eyes feast on magnificent mountain vistas in every direction. Lined with historic brick buildings, the city’s charming downtown is home to a growing number of excellent restaurants, cozy coffee shops and novel specialty stores. With a population of less than 5,000 people, everyone knows you.
Originally developed as a residential base for coal mine workers, the coal mining industry continues to employ many residents. The diverse mix of people is what makes this community interesting. Miners, foresters and seasonal employees rub shoulders with business owners, techies and young families.
While the mind-blowing annual snowfall and euphoric powder skiing lured me to this ski town in the Rockies, it is the great people that keep me here. There is a real sense of community. Fernie is an incredible place to be. When Ski Canada Magazine named Fernie as the “best ski town to live in”, they were bang on.