Photo courtesy Peter Belmonte.
26 July 2007 - 12:36 (?)
The sign reads ...
Dead Man’s Flats
As a gateway to a major pass through the Rocky Mountains, the Bow Valley has been a transportation corridor since the time of the early aboriginal groups, explorers, and fur traders. The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1883 and the discovery of nearby coal resulted in the District’s development.
The name of one community in the Bow Valley, Dead Man’s Flats, has a number of possible origins. The most prevalent is said to have arisen from a grisly incident that occurred in May, 1904.
Around 1900 Jean Marret came from France to the Canmore area to operate a dairy farm. He encouraged his brother François to join him. François did not like life as a farm hand and spent the next three years working at odd jobs in Canmore and Cochrane. As time passed, he started hearing the voices of his long-dead parents, and a constant buzzing in his head. François was convinced his parents were telling him his brother was trying to kill him with invisible electrical machines. In an alleged act of self-defense, François Marret murdered Jean with an axe as he lay asleep in bed. Then, near this spot, François threw his brother’s lifeless body into the Bow River.
At his trial, expert witnesses stated that auditory hallucinations were a symptom of a deep-seated brain disease. This condition, they believed, had been brought on by François’ life of privation while serving in the French Foreign Legion in Africa. Two weeks after the killing, the verdict was in. On the grounds of insanity, François Marret was acquitted of his brother’s murder and was committed for the rest of his life to the asylum in Brandon, Manitoba.