Dead Man’s Flats

So have you ever wondered where a town’s name like “Dead Man’s Flats” could ever have come from? Here is one version that many say is the correct one.

Just before the turn of the century a Frenchman named Jean Marret lived in a little cabin on the flats below Pigeon Mountain. Here he had taken up a homestead near the river.To supplement his income he worked part time in the Canmore coal mines. When he prospered, he sent for his brother Francois and he arrived from France on December 10, 1901.Francois wore his hair in a pompadour style and was a wild looking little man. The residents of Canmore and area regarded Francois as a little strange.

Francois Marret had a problem! He was convinced that his brother , Jean, had developed an electric machine that was slowly, silently killing him. He searched for the deadly machine, but he never found it. Still, at night he could hear the machine whirling away somewhere in the mountain darkness. Determined, since he could not locate the machine, that he must destroy its creator, he slipped through the woods to the neighbouring farm and took their double sided-axe. Returning to their cabin he killed his brother and then lay down beside him to sleep.

When he awoke, a second voice urged him to take his brother to the river and revive him. So he did, but Jean showed no signs of life.

The next day he realized that with his brother dead there would be no one to work Jean’s shift in the mine. So Francois went to Canmore and asked to take his brother’s shift explaining that Jean could not work that morning as he had killed him and the river had not yet revived him. It was a wild story that Francois had told. The RCMP from Banff led a party out to recover the battered body.

The trial opened in Calgary and at it’s conclusion, Francois was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was assigned to the mental hospital in Ponoka, Alberta but never did regain his sanity and eventually died there.

Today, the residents of the little tourist centre that sprang up after 1957 below Pigeon Mountain refer to their hamlet as “Dead Man’s Flats” in memory of the strange little Frenchman who killed his brother.

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