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For its townsite at Ozada, Brazeau leased 80 acres of land from the Stoney Indian Reserve. As a community, Ozada never exceeded more than 75 people. The company built several small one- and two-bedroom homes for families, and bunkhouses for single men. Conditions were spartan. There was electricity, but no running water. A slop pail was under most kitchen sinks. Outhouses were built in the back. A wood stove provided heat. There was a communal water well at the west end of the townsite. "When the mine was operating, there was two families in some of the houses," said Bryan Fleming.
Map of Ozada townsite
A map of the former Ozada townsite. Courtesy of Bryan Fleming.
The Fleming's original 800 sq.-ft. Ozada house was two-rooms, one of them used as a company office. When they arrived, it had to accommodate Bryan, his parents and two sisters. Privacy was an extreme luxury. "How we all lived there, I don't know. Essentially, there was one bedroom and a kitchen," said Bryan. One of the Fleming's neighbors was the Johnson family, who first moved to Ozada in 1947. Otto Johnson was a mine carpenter. After a brief subsequent move to Ribbon Creek, he settled back to Ozada where he built a four-room house, considered upscale for the mining community.
Bryan Fleming's former house
"All summer, when he was building it, we lived in a tent that was put on wooden walls," said Johnson's daughter Verda (Johnson) McAffer, who was eight-years-old in 1947, and now a resident of Chase, British Columbia. "They made a movie on Ozada Flats and left some props there, so some of the guys hauled a big fifteen foot by fifteen foot floor to us and dad built walls and put a big white, canvas tent on top. Mom did most of the cooking outside on a little stove while dad built the house."
© Johnnie Bachusky
Overturned outhouse behind Bryan Fleming's house
Bryan Fleming's former house, now long abandoned.
Communal Ozada water well
© Johnnie Bachusky
An overturned outhouse behind Bryan Fleming's former home.
© Johnnie Bachusky
The communal Ozada water well.

When economics, including the prohibitive costs of hauling coal from Ribbon Creek, forced Brazeau to close its Kananaskis mining operations in 1952, it was also the end for Ozada. However, the company refused to give up hope entirely, and asked Vince Fleming to stay at Ozada and take care of the equipment, homes and buildings, which were quickly abandoned. He became the long-time caretaker of Ozada, which after four short years of prosperity, was a ghost town.

Ozada resident and dog in winter Ozada men bringing in lumber circa 1950
Ozada resident and his dog working on his truck in winter.
 Photo courtesy of Verda McAffer.
Ozada men bringing lumber into the townsite, probably around 1950.
Photo courtesy of Verda McAffer.
"They (company) walked away from the place. They wanted to make sure nothing was stolen, and that everything was kept intact," said Bryan Fleming. "When the mine closed, they left all kinds of machinery. They said it would likely open up again." It was never to be. Vince Fleming was the caretaker of Ozada until January, 1967, when he was tragically killed in a car accident outside Canmore. Bryan stayed until 1964 when he finished high school. Following Vince's death, bulldozers moved into Ozada, as well as the abandoned Ribbon Creek townsite, and demolished and removed most of the buildings and structures.
Abandoned residence Overgrown Ozada Main Street
© Johnnie Bachusky
© Johnnie Bachusky
The overgrown Main Street of Ozada.
An abandoned former residence at Ozada. During the settlement's brief life, houses were often occupied by two families.
Old rusting car
However, Bryan Fleming's original house still remains, as well as a few other buildings and a scattering of minesite ruins. Fleming marvels at how he and his family managed to survive those early years in Ozada, when everything felt so remote and challenging. But he also finds humor and peace of mind, remembering the simple and good times on the Ozada flats. They were so honest. Although most of Ozada is gone, the wind is a constant reminder of those spartan days past, and of ghosts always keeping watch.
Ozada ruins
© Johnnie Bachusky
An old rusting car, at least a half century old, still rests at the townsite.
©Johnnie Bachusky is indebted to the kind cooperation of the residents of the Stoney Indian Reserve. Visitors to Ozada should remember that the site is on private property and that permission should be sought from the Stoney Indian Reserve.