May 17, 2023 I Brent Swancer

A Strange Historical Time Slip From the Wilds of Canada

One of the weirder corners of the paranormal is that of what are called "time slips." These are instances in which individuals or even whole groups of people have seemed to pass through some veil between time and space, to find themselves flung back far back into the past to witness events there before being catapulted right back into the present, often confused and with no idea what has happened to them. Such cases tend to be rare, but when they do happen they also tend to be very bizarre indeed. One of these happened back in the 19th century on the frontiers of Canada, and it is a very weird case, indeed.

Sir Cecil Edward Denny emigrated from England to the United States at the age of just 19 and in 1874 joined Canada’s North-West Mounted Police, working his way up the ranks from constable to sub-inspector. Denny took part in the Long March west and he remained at Fort Macleod during the winter of 1874-75, and he took detailed journals and notes on his many adventures through this wild land. He would describe of the land in his The Riders of the Plains: A Reminiscence of the Early and Exciting Days in the North West:

For some years after the advent of the North West Mounted Police into the western portion of the then Prince Rupert’s land, and to-day known as the North West Territories, the newness, and also the strangeness, of the country, were a source of unfailing interest to us, who belonged to that force. Game of all kinds abounded throughout the country and as we came to the foot hills of the Rockies, bear, elk and moose were often to be seen. This class of game was little molested by the tribe of Blackfeet Indians, whose home was out on the plains, and who lived altogether on the buffalo, which animals supplied them not only with meat, but nearly everything, either directly or indirectly, that they required. The streams were full of fish of many kinds, trout being the most plentiful, and near the mountains salmon trout which often weighed fifteen to eighteen pounds were easily to be caught.

During his various travels they also had much contact with the local Blackfoot tribe of the region, who were friendly and inviting to these outsiders at the time and often went hunting or fishing with them, and Denny’s writings are full of many detailed accounts of their way of life and culture. Indeed, Denny’s accounts are among some of the more detailed writings there are on the people and animals of this land, but among the myriad reports and musings of the wildlife or the Blackfeet there are some reports that really stick out as odd and seem to jump right off the page to firmly lodge themselves into the world of the weird, and one of these seems to be the time Denny came across some sort of time slip out there in the remote wilds. 

Canadian Wilderness

In the summer of 1875, Denny made a trip from the fort on Old Man river to the foot hills of the mountains, and up that river about 40 miles for the purpose of doing a bit of fishing and hunting. He took with him a pack horse, blankets, cooking utensils, an inflatable Indian rubber boat, and various other supplies, and accompanying him was a Native tribesman to act as both a guide and to help bring back any game they managed to bag, as well as two spare horses. At first their expedition went off well, with each of them managing to shoot a deer, and that first evening they set up a pleasant camp in good spirits and had a hearty dinner of venison and some trout they had caught in the river. It seemed as if it would be a fruitful trip that would go without a hitch until the following day, when they would run into some trouble and a threatening storm would seemingly spring up out of nowhere. Denny writes of this:

On the following morning we packed the deer and our camp outfit on the two spare horses, and the Indian made an early start with them for the fort. I remained with the boat ready to go down by the river, keeping only my gun and a light overcoat, with a bite of cold meat and bread for lunch. I made good way down the river during the morning, which was fine and warm, only once having any trouble, at a rather nasty rapid, in the middle of which I stuck on a flat rock. In getting off the boat upset, and I got a thorough ducking before I could catch it again. The gun which was fastened by a cord to the side of the cushion, was not lost, although rendered useless for the time by water. I, therefore, camped early for dinner, eating the bread and meat, which, although rather sodden, was better than nothing. I got my clothes partially dried in the sun. All my matches were wet, and a fire was not to be had.

While camped about noon the weather began to look threatening, heavy banks of clouds gathering in the north, and now and then the growl of thunder in the distance could be heard. As I was not more than half way, I started again on my downward journey as soon as possible, but the farther I went the darker it grew, and I soon saw that I was in for a heavy storm, which, to say the least, was by no means pleasant. The thunderstorms along the mountains, although seldom of long duration, where often very severe while they lasted, and by the look of things, I was in for one of the worst. I however made my way steadily down the river, and after a while the storm came down with a vengeance. There was a heavy wind, with hail, rain, and perpetual lightning, followed by deafening peals of thunder, seemingly right overhead. I found it difficult with such a light boat to make any progress, as the heavy wind would drive me from one shore to the other, and the river was lashed into quite heavy waves, so that, although the boat could not sink, I was sitting in water up to my waist, and sometimes sheets of water would be blown right over me. As it was getting quite dark, although not more than four o’clock in the afternoon, I found it impossible to make my way, and I determined to land and wait until the storm was over.

He managed to finally get to shore and take shelter in a stand of trees, and it was then that there was a lull in the storm just enough for him to make out over the slashing rain and crashing thunder the sound of drums thumping and beating from an Indian camp accompanied by the sound of chanting. Considering that the Natives of the area were friendly, he tied up his boat securely and made his way towards the sounds of the camp, which became louder and clearer as he drew near. The storm chose that time to become even more intense than before, with lightning ominously flashing across the sky and the rumble of thunder shaking the earth, but he managed to make it within sight of the camp, and he says of what happened next:

The storm had now come down worse than ever, and the lightning was almost blinding. I made my way through the timber as fast as possible, it not being any too safe in such close proximity to the trees, and coming out into an open glade of quite an extent, I saw before me the Indian camp not more than two hundred yards away. I could see men and women, and even children, moving about among the lodges, and what struck me as strange was the fact that the fires in the centre of many of the tents shone through the entrances, which were open. This surprised me, as you do not often find the Indians moving about in the wet if they can help it. They generally keep their lodges well closed during a thunder storm, of which they are very much afraid. They look upon thunder as being the noise made by one of their deities called the “Old Man,” while throwing great boulders from the mountains. There were, I should consider, about twenty lodges in the camp, and a band of horses could be seen grazing not far off on the other side of the camp.

I stood for a few seconds watching and considering which lodge to make for, and had taken a few steps towards the one nearest me, when I seemed to be surrounded by a blaze of lightning, and at the same time a crash of thunder followed that fairly stunned me for nearly a minute, and sent me on my back. A large tree not far off was struck. I could hear the rending of the wood, and it was afterwards found nearly riven in half. Some of the electric fluid had partly stunned and thrown me down. I was fortunate to have escaped with my life, and, as it was, it was a few minutes before I was able to rise and look around. I looked towards the place where the camp stood, but to my unutterable astonishment as well as terror, it was not there. It was quite light, although still storming heavily, and was not much after four o’clock. A few minutes before not only a large Indian camp had stood there, and the voices of the Indians could be distinctly heard, but now all had suddenly disappeared, even to the band of horses that were quietly grazing there only a few minutes before.

I stood for a moment almost dumb with astonishment, seeing and hearing nothing, when suddenly an overwhelming sense of terror seemed to seize me, and almost without knowing what I did, I ran towards the bank overlooking the river, which was about a quarter of a mile away, dropping my gun as I ran. I did not stop until I reached the top of the bank, and there I had to rest for want of breath. Here I managed to gather my wits together, and to think of what had taken place. The open place where the camp had stood was in plain sight from where I was, with the clump of trees behind towards the river, but it was empty, and not a tent or human being in sight. There was nothing but the trees tossed by the storm and the driving rain, and now and then a flash of lightning. I could even then hardly believe my eyes, but there was no doubt about it, and I did not remain long in sight of that spot, and being afraid to go down to my boat, I determined to walk down the river bank to the fort, which must have been a good fifteen miles away. It was one of the hardest journeys I ever undertook. What with the shock from being thrown down, and then the most astonishing and inexplicable disappearance of the camp, and also being soaked to the skin, I was in a most uncomfortable condition. The storm continued until night, when it cleared up, and I made my way into the fort at about midnight, completely fagged out, turning into bed at once, with no explanation to anyone.

The following morning, Denny would tell some other officers in his regiment about what he had seen during that storm, but he was merely laughed at and no one believed him. He was told it had all been in his head or that he was making up tall tales, but he knew what he had seen and he could not explain it. He decided to travel back to the spot where the mysterious camp had been, taking one of the Indians and a Blackfoot interpreter with him, and they managed to find the spot fairly quickly, its spot hard to miss because of the unique bend of the river and rock formations nearby, but there was no sign of a camp there and they were met with an eerie quiet. Denny would write of what they found:

We found the place without trouble, but it was vacant, and look as we could no sign of any recent camp was to be seen. A few rings of stone partly overgrown with grass showed where an old camp had been many years ago, and on questioning the Indian, he stated that the Blackfeet had surprised and slaughtered a camp of Cree Indians at that place many years ago, and in fact we came across two bleached skulls lying in the grass. The Indian did not seem to have any superstitions regarding that place. We found where a tree had been struck by lightning, and the boat and gun we brought away. I have, until now, but seldom mentioned this circumstance, but I am to-day as firmly convinced as ever that the Indian camp, together with the men, women, and the horses, was most certainly there, and that I suffered under no hallucination whatever, but account for it I cannot, and look upon it as one of those inexplicable riddles which cannot be solved.

Were they somehow transported temporarily to another time through means we may never fully understand? Or is there some other more rational explanation? Was this a case of another time somehow transposing itself onto the present? Was it some sort of mysterious interdimensional phenomenon? It remains unknown, and goes to show just how far back weird time-slip stories go. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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