In Wayne, Alberta you’ll find a bar with real bullet holes in the wall in a ghost town that is said to have real ghosts. You’ll also find an operating hotel – quite possibly the only one in a Canadian ghost town. The honeymoon suite at the Rosedeer hotel has a private bath, but not a private bathroom. If you want to use the toilet, you have to go across the hall. It’s the price you pay to honeymoon in an Alberta ghost town. Fortunately, the actual price you pay is only seventy-five dollars per night.
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Wayne – Alberta’s Wild West
The Rosedeer Hotel is in a little place called Wayne, Alberta. It’s located about 16-km and 11 single-lane bridges southeast of Drumheller, Alberta. Wayne sprung up when the Red Deer Coal Company built the Rose Deer Mine, in 1912. In its heyday, the town had a population of more than 2000 people. There were two schools, a hospital, several stores, a hotel and the saloon that miners affectionately dubbed the “Bucket of Blood” due to the large number of drunken brawls.
Wayne was a typical Wild West town. Life was hard for the miners who lived there and many took liberties with the law, especially the prohibition laws that were in place in Alberta from 1915 -1923. To curtail illegal liquor sales, the Mounted Police eventually stationed an officer in the town, but it was difficult for one man to tame a wild place like Wayne, Alberta.
Related: If you love history and stories about ghost towns, check out this book about the Ghost Town Stories of Alberta.
What Happened When the Mines Closed in Wayne, Alberta
The Great Depression hit Alberta’s coal mining industry hard and the first mine in the Drumheller area closed down in 1932. By the time the last mine in the area shut its doors; the population of Wayne, Alberta had dwindled to fewer than 300 souls. Today the hamlet has only 28 permanent residents and the only evidence of the glory days is the Rosedeer Hotel and the aptly-named Last Chance Saloon, which are both still open.
Related: Check out our post 14 Fun Things to do in Drumheller.
Visiting the Last Chance Saloon
When you walk inside the Last Chance Saloon, you’re usually greeted by Dave Arsenault who owns and operates the saloon and hotel.
The walls of the saloon are decorated with old black and white photos of miners, antiques, numerous nick-nacks, and mounted hunting trophies. There isn’t a bare spot on the wall and even the roof is “decorated.” There’s a racoon wearing a New Year’s Eve party hat in the corner, a warthog over the door wearing a Canada flag toque and a White Tail Deer who is very involved in Alberta politics judging by the fact that he has several campaign buttons pinned to his fur.
In the corner of the room is an antique bandbox that was removed from a bus depot in Calgary and still works. For a small fee, you can hear it play.
The saloon menu is pretty simple and consists of burgers, fries, a few salads and a couple of homemade desserts. On Wednesdays, draft beer is served in quart sealers that were once used for canning dill pickles. The food isn’t all that special, but the atmosphere is truly unique. Sitting in the saloon of a real Wild West ghost town isn’t something you get to do every day.
Even though Wayne is not a huge tourist centre (it is officially listed on the website Ghostowns.com), you shouldn’t let that discourage you from paying a visit. A lazy afternoon spent in the Last Chance Saloon is an experience that really shouldn’t be missed. It’s worth the drive just to sit in a bar with actual bullet holes in the wall in a ghost town that is said to have actual ghosts. All it would take is one night in the honeymoon suite to find out if there is any truth to the rumors that the hotel is haunted – an easy task if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom.
If You Go to Wayne, Alberta:
-The Rosedeer Hotel and Last Chance Saloon are located in the tiny hamlet of Wayne, Alberta – about 16-km southeast of Drumheller. Getting there is half the fun and it’s a popular road trip stop for motorcyclists.
-The saloon is family-friendly and has a children’s menu for ages 9 and under.
-In the peak summer months, the saloon and hotel are open 7 days per week. In the winter, it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other hours can be variable. In the off season especially, it’s a good idea to call (1-403-823-9189) before your visit.
Looking for more great road trips in Alberta? Check out our post about Things to do in Red Deer in winter.