By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Just when I thought there aren’t enough ghost towns in British Columbia, I learn the tiny community of Ashcroft is also spooked in We Want to Believe’s latest episode, “The Village.”
This episode doesn’t offer a complete history, so I’m here to fill in the gap: Third Lieutenant Governor of BC, Clement Francis Cornwall and his brother founded this mining community. It’s also the site where freight from the Canadian Pacific Railway gets unloaded and hauled to Cariboo Wagon Road to other communities during the 1861-1867 Cariboo Gold Rush. Many people flocked to the region to make their fortune and many also perished in their attempts.
Typically, where there’s a railroad, there’s also labourers to lay the line. The big reason why this place is very recognizable is because of the many television and film productions that’s been through here. Viewers may remember instances from the movie The A-Team (2010) or television show The X-Files.
Anyone wanting to know more about this location is best to check out books like Ghost Towns of the Pacific Northwest (Amazon link). I own Ghost Towns & Mining Camps of Vancouver Island to tell me of places specific to my neck of the woods. My interest developed years ago when I visited Cumberland and explored the historic side. The ruins are now part of Coal Creek Historic Park. The energies I sensed got my spider sense tingling. Few people recognize this town was home to one of this island’s first “Chinatown” communities before Victoria’s version stole the thunder decades later before becoming cosmopolitan in this century.
Anyone wanting to explore a nearby small town’s past is highly encouraged to, and when not everyone can get to them, this episode of We Want to Believe offers a three-minute tour of the places one must hit when road trips are possible! The best time to visit the Kootenays region is during the spring or summer, instead of the early winter which sometimes hit during the month of October, when this episode was filmed. The Halloween decorations are a giveaway and they weren’t meant to say how haunted this area is.
From random apparitions by the river to spectral visitors to John W. Fair’s home, this resident has seen it all. He contacted the team to come investigate. He offers a tiny bit of history of how people try to make their fortune, and this segment was one I wished that was longer. Part one’s outdoor EVP sessions are teasers. Instead of using a digital recorder, they opted for a spirit box, and that got some sounds. It’s not very clear because of the noise of the wind through the sock over the microphone, but it got me curious as to how many Chinese people lived in this community. Were they railway workers? That’s a big question I have when considering this town’s past.
After seeing part one, I’m tempted to hit up the public libraries (near and afar), recruit some ghost hunting buddies, rent a van and go on a road trip! This province is riddled with plenty of old towns and honestly, I’d need a talking dog to join this rag tag team if we’re to tackle any random phantoms we’d meet along the way!