Look through my private collection - An amazing stint in Fernie

As it starts to get colder I find myself pining to be back into the thick of winter, I mean real winter. Over 2013 & 2014 I spent a year living in a small town called Fernie, in British Columbia. There were many great things about living in Fernie, but the best thing was the lifestyle. Having nature's playground (the ski hill) 5 minutes up the road is what I miss the most (& my friends of course). 

Living away from NZ for a year was the best learning experience I ever had. I have travelled a bit in the past but I have never lived in another country & faced all the challenges it presents. I travelled a total of 16 months & visited the US either side of my stay in Canada.

A massive thank you to my Canadian families, The Purdys & the Fishers & to Chan (boss lady). A special shout out to my 'Canadian Mum' Kerrie who taught me so much & is a second Mum to me, even now I'm back in NZ. I miss you all so much & can't wait to see you all again.


In Canada, I experienced lots of firsts (see images below). Some other first include: shoveling snow, snowshoeing, snow-blowing & moose sightings.


Photo credit | Cheyney McDonnell

Yep, before I went to Canada, I had never been to the snow. Nothing like diving into the deep end. The coldest temperature I experienced was -30ºC (windchill -50ºC). One night I'm sure my toes were about to snap off. Even though it was cold, I loved it. It isn't like the damp cold you experience in places like Auckland (where you can't warm through). It's a dry cold & as soon as you step back inside, you're warm again.

The above image was the first dump of proper snow I saw (other than on the mountain-tops). It was during a trip to Calgary with the Purdys. Needless to say, I was a bit excited. 

Photo credit | Monique Dill
I can not describe to you how much I love this sport! Before moving to Canada, exercise to me always felt like a chore (haha). Snow sports have changed my perception forever.
Photo credit | Kaylynn Purdy. Kerrie in the background, me in the foreground.
Unfortunately I didn't learn to downhill ski, but I did take a liking to cross-country skiing. Kerrie & I would often go out at night, so much fun! 
Photo credit | Kerrie Purdy
Our native trees in NZ are evergreen, so many trees don't lose their leaves. As a result, our autumn doesn't get the beautiful range of colours like in North America. 
Photo credit | Cheyney McDonnell
My spirit animal. I saw so many bears & cubs. We saw this bear on a trip to Waterton National Park with Kerrie, Debbie, Roxane & Emma.

Photo credit | Cheyney McDonnell

Kerrie was making a quilt & I wanted in on this skill. I made one for my brother to send home for his 30th. Haha, the lady in the quilt shop asked me how old my brother was & when I replied '30', she had a good ol' laugh. 


I lived in Fernie for less than a year. Some of the connections I made are as strong as the connections I have with my oldest & dearest friends. Fernie is a transient town, people come & go, usually with the seasons. I met & connected with people from all over the globe. Some I have caught up with since, some I keep in contact with, some I don't. We all have something in common - Fernie.


Photo credit | Lauren Gaastra. Nicola on the left, me on the right.

I had to go all the way to Canada to meet these amazing Kiwi girls. I met Nicola when she came into Freyja (where I worked), she invited me to her place for dinner. I'm so glad I went.  A potluck dinner, a trip to the pub & a spontaneous trip to Idaho, we were instant friends. Her sister Lauren moved to Fernie & with similar taste in art & music, we hit it off also. Nicola has the patience of a saint & is the reason I know how to snowboard. These two girls (& Levi, Nicola's boyfriend) all hold a special place in my books.

Nicola has since moved to Sydney & started her business Delicious Skin. Check it out here. More recently she has written a children's book And so you asked. She's an inspiration to me & her products are to die for!


Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Left to right: Me, Mon & Anna.

Mon - The life of the party. Everyone's best friend & so much fun to be around. Girl, I wish I saw you more! 

Anna, my flatmate, my friend, my partner in crime. I love this girl! The easiest person to live with. A straight up, no-nonsense girl who I have all the time in the world for. Thoughtful & giving. Anna saved me when I broke down 3.5 hours away from home. That was a big deal for me, in New Zealand I have so many friends I could call upon in that situation. It's a bit different when you're in a new town, with brand new friends - that's a big ask. She didn't hesitate. I miss living with Anna & would live with her again in a heartbeat if we lived in the same city.


All gorgeous, all lovely, all killer skiers. The only pic I have with these girls is one where Dionne is pulling a face (I don't think she would want it on the internet). Please, girls, come stay with me whenever you like. I hope to make it to Sweden one day :) I was lucky enough to have Dionne & Matty come out to NZ to visit last year. Come back!


The most beautiful girl both inside & out with a heart of gold. I met Amanda working in Freyja & we got along like a house on fire. The most positive being who radiates good vibes & infectious energy. Amanda, you need to get down to NZ.


Photo Credit | Some random at Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Alberta.

Aussie Anna, AKA Annamal. Intelligent, thoughtful & a true humanitarian. If she wasn't flitting around the world working for Operation Smile, we were hanging out. Hikes, painting sessions, long deep & meaningful conversations. She has a high emotional IQ & always knew exactly what to say if I was having a bad day. This photo was from our day trip to Banff. Moraine Lake in the background is stunning & I will treasure this memory forever. 

CHANMy boss at Freyja (the clothing store I worked at while living in Fernie). I have always had a weird attitude about making friends at work, particularly with the boss. Chan turned this around. Ever since I met her, Chan has been an inspiration to me, the best boss ever! She still continues to be an inspiration. I admire her as a business owner, boss, mentor, friend, & (as of recently), a new mum! Whatever she does, she kills it. All while maintaining strong, healthy connections & a wicked sense of style.


I discovered the following things about myself on this overseas experience:

• I'm a winter girl, I love the snow.

• A true homebody who needs to travel, but belongs in New Zealand.

• Moved & inspired by nature, particularly beautiful landscapes


Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Taking a photo of the reflection of Mt. Fernie in the Freyja shop window.

My big epiphany to start Camille Co. grew from working for Chan at Freyja. It's funny how these things play out. If it hadn't been for my job in the shop, I wouldn't be where I am today. Chan ensured me that if I returned home to start a business, I would be fine. Something I never thought I would do. Here I am, two years on & two business later, a big thank you goes to Chan.


Lastly, I want to share with you some of my favourite nature images from my time in Canada.

Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Kayaking with Kerrie at Whiteswan, BC.

Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Whiteswan, BC.

Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Just out of Sparwood, BC.

Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Alberta.

Photo Credit | Cheyney McDonnell. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.

Has anyone been to Fernie? If you're a skier or snowboarder, I recommend you get there in winter. You don't hear much of it, but it is a hidden gem. You can thank me after you have been. I hope you have enjoyed this blog post.

Until next time,

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  • Monique

    Galfriend, what a blog! I have just been exploring your sites. You are such an inspiration. And a HUGE well done on how far you have come with your business. I am coming to see you in October, I’m sorry last time turned into a flying visit. So proud of you. Wishing you a very happy birthday for the GREAT 3 0 that is coming your way… in a couple of days! You’re such a beautiful human xx

  • Margaret

    A most beautiful blog I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting your photos and comments of a wonderful trip and friendships made just as I did when following your adventure back in 2014. You are such a special young woman with a beautiful future ahead enjoy it all.

  • Anna

    What really stands out for me is how the collective qualities you describe from all of us, (and indeed everyone you probably meet along the way!), are all the qualities we absolutely adore and admire in you. You magnify loyalty, fun, acceptance, open mindedness, love, courage, creativity, flair, spontaneity, uniqueness, amazing determination, encouragement, commitment and success.
    Congratulations on your creation Camille co. (SO exciting!)
    Thank YOU for countless laughs and inspiration!!

  • Gwyn

    Lovely story telling! xx

  • Jess

    Epic pics – what a stunning place!! Your blog got me all excited for boarding in Queenstown xx

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