Cypress Hills & Fort Walsh – Director’s Notes from Rob King – Season 3 – Episode 1
Day 1 – Fort Walsh
Greetings. It was a long ride back from Fort Walsh to the lodge at Cypress Hills. We probably saw 50 deer on or along the road on the way back. After sitting out a full day while a snow storm blew through, we woke this morning to melting snow and made our way into Maple Creek. There we interviewed local historian Royce Pettyjohn,we also examined an old photo of the Commercial Hotel with a ghostly figure in a window and spoke to the present owner of the hotel. Then we headed for Fort Walsh.
I can’t describe the feeling we all seemed to have as we arrived at this crucial site in the history of the west. For some it was a return trip. For others, it was the first time there. Yet we all shared a sort of euphoria and sense of the profound.
We got lucky in two ways: One, the sun shone and what I assume was smoke from Fort McMurray created a fine, picturesque haze to the valley and the hills beyond the fort. Two, we met up with Brent Mason, a night watchman who not only had some great stories to tell, but who also turned out to be a real asset in our first night’s investigation.
After shooting a great group smudge with the sun setting in the background, Jeff had some intuition about two corners of the fort.With a million stars in the sky overhead and the temperature dropping just below zero, we began the investigation. It started without much happening, but when Brent began referring to past NWMP men, the K2 fired up over the name Dalrymple Clark—who as Brent had mentioned in an earlier interview, was an assistant to Major Walsh. The unfortunate soul contracted Mountain Fever just prior to his wife arriving for a visit Within days of her arrival he was dead.
The K2 continued to react to Brent and then went cold. The team moved into a building on the adjacent corner of the fort but Darymple and any other spirit was suddenly nowhere to be found. We ended with a great post-mortem by Brent, then packed our gear and wagon-trained our way to the lodge, dodging deer all the way. My bed sits only a few feet away from me now and that’s where I am headed.
Day 2 – Fort Walsh
The snow returned briefly today. The cast stayed behind with Trevor and Francis to do social media interviews and a possible web segment on infrared investigations. The rest of us travelled fast and light and shot as many scenics as we could get across the park. The sky was mostly leaden and the wind cut through our layers. Hard to believe we were in shorts just a few days ago. When we arrived in Maple Creek for dinner, a tire on the van went flat and the sun finally made an appearance. The forecast is for sun tomorrow but freezing temperatures even before nightfall, so we’ll be contending with a frosty second investigation.
Day 3 – Fort Walsh
It was a great final day in the Cypress Hills. Though cool, the sun shone, white clouds passed lazily overhead. We made our way to the mystery rocks in the hills southwest of Fort Walsh. We shot with the drone, as the cast trekked along a ridge and descended to the spot we had heard was magical. If nothing else, the obvious passing of people there for hundreds of years and the view made it seem mystical.
Later we shot a ceremony with the cast smoking a Woodland Cree pipe on the hill overlooking the massacre site, where American wolfers killed more than twenty Nakota in 1873. We followed this up with another ceremony closer to the fort—a picnic area nestled next to Battle Creek– to pay respect to the spirits of the entire valley. Tom built a fire and we placed items from several other investigations into it, to fulfill promises made in places where a fire could not be used. On our first windless day of the week, the smoke curled lazily up toward the coral sky. Our guest Brent from the fort, participated with us. Lead by Tom, they also tied cloths onto some willow trees.
When night fell, we started our final investigation in the old SuperIntendant’s quarters, which had also been used at times as an infirmary and a jail by the NWMP. After some time, we made contact with the Rempod. Jeff had a feeling of a presence in a doorway leading to the back rooms. He felt he couldn’t pass through the doorway but Michaella went in with the K2. Joined by Brent, they began to get lights going off and seemed to make contact with Dalrymple Clark again. He confirmed that he was happy at the fort but he didn’t want us in the building. It was later felt that while Brent was known to the spirit, Jeff and Michaella were strangers and therefore made him unhappy.
We ended on the cast talking to Brent, who as a professed skeptic had really been surprised and impressed to know that there were indeed spirits making their home in the place that he has worked for so long and with such great respect for the history and the people who lived and died at Fort Walsh.