The Last Chance Saloon
Deep in Alberta’s Dinosaur Valley lies the town of Wayne, home to the infamous Last Chance Saloon and Rosedeer Hotel, which opened in 1913. Servicing the local mining community during the coal boom, the Last Chance Saloon became a lively and restless local site. As the population increased from the Rosedeer Coal Mine, this bar and hotel was the location of many outdoor fights, arguments, and mining skirmishes. The local newspaper clipping at the front of the bar counter, “Making a Comeback: Changing Hands But Keeping the Tradition Going,” reminds tourists venturing into the heart of Wayne that the Last Chance Saloon was witness to the changing social and cultural history of the badlands. In the 1920s, the Last Chance Saloon and Rosedeer Hotel was called “the Bucket of Blood,” due to the frequent fights occurring outside of the saloon doors. Dave Arsenault and Paula Sutherland, general manager of the Last Chance Saloon, also note that the miners union, Communist Party, and Ku Klux Klan can be traced through the history of their buildings.
Today, the small town of Wayne is home to just 27 residents which is a significant departure from the 2,000 miners and community members living in the region from 1920 onward. While historic western facade of the building seems at peace in the narrow valley, the Last Chance Saloon and Rosedeer hotel welcome thousands of international visitors this location every year in the summer months.
If the many photographs and artifacts adorning the inside walls of the saloon are not enough to represent the spirit of the wild west in the Canadian badlands, visitors and locals are keenly aware of the paranormal history of the location itself. Both the saloon and the hotel have reports of unexplained sightings and sounds, however, it is the third floor of the Rosedeer Hotel that features heavily in many of the experiences and stories circulating around this region.
The third floor of the Rosedeer Hotel, currently alarmed and closed to the public, is reported to be haunted by the spirit of a pro-union miner. In 2011, Mark Stachiew, of The Vancouver Sun, summarizes this claim in his article, “Ghost Hunting in the Badlands”:
“The hotel has three floors, but the third floor is closed. Legend has it, it's off limits because a ghost lives there. The story goes that goons from the Ku Klux Klan were hired by the mine to mingle with the clientele in the hotel's saloon to be on the lookout for Communists, which was what anyone who dared try to organize the miners into a union would be called. On occasion, they would take undesirables up to one of the hotel rooms and give them a good beating, burn them with cigarette butts or tar and feather them - whatever it took to deliver the message that they weren't welcome in Wayne. At least one time, it's said, the roughs went too far with their victim. Something bad happened on the third floor, which remains closed to this day.”
The third floor spirit is not the only haunting ghost on the property either. Several different apparitions are reported yearly by seasonal staff and visitors entering the saloon. Both Dave Arsenault and Paula Sutherland have experienced unusual sounds and footsteps occurring in the main restaurant area of the saloon and the staircase leading up to the hotel’s second floor. Paula even vividly recalls hearing her name called out during her shift only to find no one around. Even many patrons of the saloon are not surprised by our inquiry into the haunted history of this location, and one responded, “Sure this place is haunted! I’ve never doubted it.” Adventurous tourists seeking to experience the old west can stay on the second floor of the Rosedeer Hotel and visit the Last Chance Saloon. As for the infamous third floor currently off limits to curious parties, Dave Arsenault plans to renovate the space into a historic museum for everyone which he hopes “will better honour the spirits in this place.”
The Last Chance Saloon and Rosedeer Hotel
555 Jewell St., Rosedale Station, Alberta
Phone: 1 (403) 823 - 9189
Reservations are accepted by phone or email