36 Times: A Truly Canadian True Crime Podcast

Podcasts seem to be an infinite universe of topics and angles that can appear daunting for those who want to start listening. There is quite literally a podcast about everything and they can be so niche, ranging from shows about love and relationships, right down to discussions about the host’s love of pens and everything in between. Perhaps one of the most popular podcast genres is true crime, which the ladies at 36 Times develop and discuss in a truly Canadian way.

36 Times, which references a meme that suggests that you meet a murderer thirty-six times throughout your life, is the brainchild of Lilly Ashdown and Krista Tomlinson who are based out of Nova Scotia. 36 Times discusses real crimes that have happened in Canada, focusing on both the grisly and the goofy. “We have a Canadian focus since we found in our joint listening to true crime podcasts out there, Canada wasn’t getting as much as a mention as places like the States and the UK. So, it’s a Canadian Content Crime Podcast. It could be aired on the CBC and count as their Canadian content for the day, even. So much Canadian stuff, you have maple syrup in your ears after listening, it is so Canadian,” Ashdown told Tint of Ink in 2017.

A new 36 Times podcast is put up every other week and each episode features a murder plus as Ashdown put it, “a crazy Canadian crime that we throw in just to lighten the mood before we wrap up.” In their first year working on the podcast, the ladies covered such topics as Canada’s youngest convicted killer, the first killer in North America to be convicted using dental records, and a man who thought himself to be the real-life Dexter. On the more “crazy crime” side, the duo has discussed Tim Horton’s break-ins and attacks over sausages.

Since their interview with Tint of Ink, the ladies have taken on a number of other Canadian criminals such as convicted serial killer Clifford Olson, and the story of The Flying Bandit, who was as Ashdown described him, “a semi-Robin Hood in so much as he robbed from the rich and stopped himself from being poor.” Ashdown said some of her favourites, which she admits is a term we should use loosely seeing as how we are discussing real crimes have been people like Jane Hurshman, a victim of abuse who then was charged with the murder of her abuser. She also listed people like Cindy Gladue, a woman who suffered injustice before and after her death, and the story of Albert Walker, whose story is similar to that of the Talented Mr. Ripley; but with a Canadian twist of course.

“The cases I have liked covering have been the missing and unsolved cases, like the stories of Sharron Prior, Christine Jessop, Michael Dunahee, and a local to you [in Newfoundland] case, Dana Bradley,” said Tomlinson. “No matter how small we may be, I hope to cover those types of cases more and get them out there, shining a light on them, albeit a tiny sliver of a light.”

Tomlinson may be selling herself a little short. In the past year, 36 Times has grown. They began a patreon which offers bonus episodes and locally made buttons as well as a Zazzle store. As of this writing, they have accumulated about 2,000 followers over a number of social media platforms and have reached over 118,000 downloads in thirty six episodes. They have also gained many new listeners largely in part due to crossover episodes with other podcasts like Dark Poutine from BC and an interview on Intalkiscated.

Coming up with a new crimes to discuss bi-weekly might be a daunting task for just two people. Ashdown and Tomlinson initially got their subject matter from Google but have since consulted other sources such as books and documentaries. Ashdown admits to consulting “a lot of old-timey papers” and even “this horrible made-for-television film–that is for episode 34!”

When asked which of the east coast provinces has had the most brutal or scariest crime, Ashdown gave that dubious honour to Nova Scotia and again referenced Jane Hurshman. “There is a book I read, Life With Billy, that I highly suggest anyone wanting to know more about the case read,” she said. “But it is graphic and awful. It wasn’t just Jane who was abused and the man she ended up killing, Billy, was a monster. Her story also ends tragically, but that is something you can hear us talk about in the episode.”

On the lighter side of things, the ladies at 36 Times said they are always on board for “crimes” that result from animals being animals. “One of the kooky crimes we discussed recently was that story out of Newfoundland about the cows that escaped and headed for a school, and that was just great,” said Tomlinson.

Ashdown reiterated,“Yeah, just about any story involving animals being ridiculous and breaking laws, we’re there for.”

Ashdown and Tomlinson have been pleased with the response to their work and thanked their fantastic listeners, new friends and noted “this great energy” around what they are doing. “I hoped for it,” admitted Ashdown. “and [we are] lucky to have found my wishes weren’t in vain!” With sights set on the not too distant future, the ladies hope to develop a better recording set-up which will maybe allow for a live show and hopefully travel to conventions like CrimeCon which was held in Chicago this year, and even have aspirations to develop and host a true crime convention in Atlantic Canada.

You can find 36 Times on iTunes, on Stitcher, or 36times.podbean.com, on Patreon, on Twitter and Instagram (@36timespodcast) and Facebook. Ashdown and Tomlinson are always open to suggestions, so if listeners have ideas, stories or crimes they would like to see discussed you can email them here.

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