Building Community, One Hold at a Time

A little golden-haired girl clings to a chalky hold on an underhang. She’s wearing a tie-dye shirt, all vibrant yellows, greens, pinks. “We Shine Brighter Together,” it says on the front. On her feet is what may be the cutest pair of climbing shoes I’ve ever seen, no bigger than an adult’s palm. She can’t be much older than five or six. She’s bicycling her legs, looking for purchase, intently focusing her gaze on her hands, which must be feeling the pull of her weight, as if willing them to hold on for just another second. She’s here, present, in the moment, getting stronger with every climb. Shining brightly. Her parents look on with a mixture of pride and concern, seemingly fighting the urge to help her, lift her, boost her up. I smile. How could you not?


I observe this scene from a Black Diamond crash pad, likely getting my bum chalky, laptop open. I am at the still-has-that-new-climbing-gym-smell Fredericton Bouldering Co-op, surrounded by a kaleidoscopic array of holds and colorful tape that indicates the difficulty level of any given bouldering route. It’s a balmy Friday afternoon in late June, and a warm rain falls beyond the rolled up bay door.


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Adam Morgan had been thinking of a world class rock climbing facility in Fredericton for years. When it became clear that the cozy, womb-like space long used by the UNB Rock and Ice Club in the basement of Lady Beaverbrook Gym would not be available for much longer, Adam got together with friend and fellow climber, Marc Labelle, to bring these thoughts to fruition. A diverse board of directors comprising passionate Frederictonians came together to take the project to the next level. This board, as well as countless others, would devote the next two years to making FBC a reality.


As their plans began to solidify, the team decided that they wanted the new gym to embody a core value of rock climbing in Fredericton: community. With this in mind, they opted for a cooperative structure, with members holding shares of the business, and in 2017 the Fredericton Bouldering Co-op was born. By January of 2018 the FBC was incorporated. By the fall of that year, it was fully funded.


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