Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Hi All, I hope you enjoyed this episode on Fernie! What amazing and truly tragic stories. It's such a stunning place but I had no idea that these awful things had happened.
So first lets talk about the Great Fernie Fire, on August 1, 1908. I can't imagine being told to evacuate and in the case of the town of Fernie, I still can't wrap my head around the fact that this town was nearly levelled in NINETY minutes. So I have a few photos I'm going to share below of the town before and after the fire. These are from tourismfernie.com, cranbrooktownsman.com and the B.C archives. If you'd like to read more from about the history of Fernie and specifically about the Fire, please check these sites out.
When I heard this story about the Ford family, it really sounds like something from a horror movie. I knew that this would for sure have made the newspapers at the time and actually pretty much all of the Fernie stories that we talk about were well documented in the District Ledger. The fire was not just local news however, it made front page of pretty much every paper in the country. Here is one article that I found that lists what is believed to have happened to this poor family.
This is from the Edmonton Bulletin, Published on August 5th, 1908.
"A man named Ford, with his wife and two children, took refuge in a cistern and the fire burned to the waters edge. The man's head was scorched to the shoulders and the remainder of the family were suffocated."
This article was in the District Ledger just one week after the fire and near the end it lists the eleven victims. With the magnitude and speed of this fire, the number of casualties could have been so much larger, it's really a wonder that it was only eleven.
So near the end of the article you will see the list of the victims and either where they were last seen, or where they were found.
"Magie Ford, Willie Ford, Theo Ford, Walter Ford of West Fernie."
The family is still in the Saint Margarets Cemetery in Fernie to this day.
Moving on to the Coal Creek Story. Check out these Photos of Coal Creek as it was long ago...and what is left there today.
So as you can see, not a lot is left of Coal Creek now but it still looks like a neat place to visit. I've attached the location in the Map section. The main feature that is still around is the old train track which is where Richard Benson's ghost is still hanging around. The story of Benson is not the only tragedy to befall Coal Creek May 22, 1902 there was an underground mine explosion that killed upwards of 135 miners and is knows as the Coal Creek Disaster. Here is an article with more information if you're interested. https://www.cranbrooktownsman.com/our-town/the-coal-creek-mine-disaster/
As always, please remember if you're checking out any abandoned places to be safe and respectful of the land and what is left there. There are some places that are not open to the public, so please be aware of signage that may indicate no trespassing. If you check out Coal Creek, send me pictures, I would love to see them and of course let me know if you run into Benson.
Now, for the infamous news articles about the Richard Benson's tragic suicide. I've included the two main ones that I used for my research.
I don't expect you to read this it's a little small. So I have also attached a link to the photo, if you click on it, it should take you to the UBC archives so you can take a look at the entire issue from that day. Also as I said in the podcast, the judges ruling was that Benson acted out of temporary insanity, which really makes it seem like his name was cleared...though sadly too late. I have included that article below and also a link to that issue as well. The judges verdict, was again front page news.
So as I said in the episode, both of these stories are so tragic. It's good that the Ford boys seemed to find peace in the end, but poor Benson is still tied to Coal Creek.
Moving on to the Courthouse, here is a photo of the beautiful building that is revered by architects around the world. I told you it was stunning! Unfortunately I wasn't able to find much in the way of interior photos. I wish I had the cell phone footage to share with you but unfortunately I was not unable to track that down.
Our last story brings us to the Lost Cemetery story. So as I said in the podcast I find this story so upsetting. It's almost unbelievable that something like this happened in real life and really, this isn't the first and only case in the world. So first I'm going to show you an aerial view of the area I'm talking about and this is a current view from trusty google Maps. You'll see the current St. Margaret's Graveyard and then I have circled the Ridgemont neighbourhood so you can see where the old Cemetery used to be.
It's hard to get any more accurate than this, the only known possible names for the old cemetery is Stork Cemetery and McLeod Cemetery, but any other information is long lost unfortunately.
But as you can see, within the relative boundaries of the blue circle, there are 400 unaccounted for burials. Like I said in the Episode, Ridgemont Crescent (red) has approximately 96 in that area alone.
I'll also get you to find Ridgemont Drive and look to the top just before it meets with Ridgemont Crescent. It's near here, that the house is from this Episode.
Here are some links to news articles:
Global news, 2014
The Free Press, 2013 (this appears to be when they were first realizing that cemetery records were not matching up.
The Free Press, 2014 (Lost Souls Project)
Fernie dot com, 2017
If you are interested in the Fernie Ghost Tours, please keep an eye on the Arts Station website: https://theartsstation.com/ closer to September for updates.
Also checkout the Cornerstone Supernatural Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1180635758777612/ and don't hesitate to send me a question to ask Paul Busch the Group Director.
I hope you enjoyed Episode 2, if you did, make sure to show your love on my socials (Facebook and Instagram are both @RealScaryPodcast), become a member on my website so you can comment on these blogs; I am always interested in your opinions!! As always, please send me your own stories (related to these or not!) OR suggestions on places I should look into through my email firstname.lastname@example.org.(or on the home page of this site, click the Submit button.)
I hope you tune in next time for Episode 3: Haunted Theatres!