Dead Man's Flats, Alberta Canada

Discover Dead Man's Flats, Alberta: A Unique Blend of History and Scenic Beauty

Nestled in the heart of Alberta's Rockies, Dead Man's Flats is a former hamlet, now a neighbourhood in Canmore, Alberta within the Municipal District of Bighorn No. 8. Recognized by Statistics Canada as a designated place under the name of Pigeon Mountain, it is conveniently located at Highway 1 exit 98, approximately 7 kilometres southeast of Canmore and 78 kilometres west of Calgary.

The Intriguing History of Dead Man's Flats, Alberta

The origin of the hamlet's name, Dead Man's Flats, is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. One explanation ties it to a murder that occurred in 1904 at a dairy farm on the flats of the Bow River. Francois Marret was tried in Calgary for the murder of his brother Jean, whose body he disposed of in the Bow River. However, he was acquitted by reason of insanity.

Another account suggests that the name originated from an incident involving two or three First Nations people who were illegally trapping beaver. Upon spotting a warden approaching, they smeared themselves with beaver blood and feigned death. Fooled by their ruse, the warden ran for help, allowing the trappers to escape with their beaver pelts. This account, however, is considered dubious as no official wardens' reports describe such an incident.

In 1954, the Calgary Herald reported that the area was named "Dead Man's Flats" only 10 to 12 years prior, after a man was found shot in a cabin in the area. Interestingly, the phrase "Dead Man's flat" was used in the August 25th, 1924 edition of the Calgary Herald, indicating that the name had been in use unofficially for several decades.

From 1974 to 1985, the hamlet was officially called Pigeon Mountain Service Centre. However, in 1985, it reverted to Dead Man's Flats to encourage tourism. The construction of the Trans-Canada highway through the area in the 1950s spurred the hamlet's development as a commercial service centre and rest stop for travellers and truck drivers.

Dead Man's Flats, Alberta: A Growing Community

According to the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Dead Man’s Flats had a population of 377 living in 128 of its 162 total private dwellings, a significant increase from its 2016 population of 125. With a land area of 1.23 km2, it had a population density of 306.5/km2 in 2021.

Today, Dead Man's Flats is home to a variety of businesses including motels, a Husky truck stop with a 24-hour diner, a Shell gas station with a U-Haul Neighborhood Dealer, and the one98eight restaurant. Recent proposals suggest the construction of a new residential neighbourhood and a light industrial park, indicating a promising future for this unique community in Alberta's Rockies.