Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

The historic Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne in southern Alberta is up for sale

Built during the First World War, it survived the Great Depression, the Second World War and the closure of coal mines in the 1950s. Now the historic Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne in southern Alberta is up for sale.

There are a century’s worth of memories in the three-storey wooden hotel, including photos of the community in its heyday, mining equipment and three bullet holes — framed on one wall of the bar — dating back to the 1970s when a trigger-happy bartender wanted to encourage some patrons to pay their tab.

The hotel, about 15 kilometres southeast of Drumheller, Alta., was built by the Rosedeer Coal Co. to house its workers and opened in 1913. The saloon was added a few years later so employees being paid in company scrip could buy a meal or a beer.

“It originally was built for the coal miners when Wayne was starting to boom with 2,500 residents in the early 1920s. Now we’re down to 29 residents and this is one of the few remaining structures from that time,” explains current owner Dave Arsenault, who has to sell the hotel as part of a divorce settlement.

“It was a going concern. There was more than one hotel out here. There were 12 coal mines and it was a bustling place. Of course, there’s almost nothing left but there’s lots of photos around depicting what it was like in the day.

“That’s really the charm of this place.”

The last working mine in the area, Sovereign Coal, closed in 1957.

A University of Calgary history professor says many people don’t realize how big an effect the coal industry had in early 20th-century Alberta.

Georg Colpitts says the Drumheller area was one of the “ground centrals of early coal-mining” in the province. Many early explorers to Western Canada not only looked at the agricultural potential, but considered the vast amounts of coal that could be used to support the British Empire.

“Wherever these individuals found large coal deposits it was factored into the thinking of London investors, to the colonial office. Coal was in the backdrop of a lot of the thinking of empiring.”

Colpitts said not only did the area have coal deposits, CN decided to develop a railhead.

“Those were the two magic combinations to tap Drumheller into the international demand and supply of coal. It became the lifeblood of that valley and continued to be so up until about the ’70s.”

The hotel is listed for $925,000. Arsenault says there’s already been some interest from prospective buyers.

“It’s unfortunate because I think the timing is great for a nice rebound in the hospitality game, but I guess that’s a selling feature, too,” he says.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re conducting business as usual. We’ve got weddings booked. We’ve got some groups coming in, lots of recurring old friends that have called and made reservations. Camping is open this year.”

WayneStock, a three-day annual music festival with acts on three stages in and around the saloon, posted a record attendance of about 2,000 in 2019, but has been cancelled since due to the pandemic.

Some think the third floor of the hotel, which is locked up and used only for storage, is haunted. The hotel was featured in Season 3 of the Canadian ghost-hunting TV show, “The Other Side.”

It has also hit the big screen.

The 1983 movie “Running Brave,” starring Robby Benson, was filmed in part at the hotel as well as the 2000 martial arts western comedy “Shanghai Noon” which starred Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson and Lucy Liu.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Alberta

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

(Big White Ski Resort/Contributed)
Big White’s big clean-up: Large turnout for post-melt mountain tidy

More than 165 people showed up to help gather the litter left behind from the winter season

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

(Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)
Delays expected on Lakeshore Road this week

Northbound traffic on Lakeshore between Richter and Barrera will be detoured for paving

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Most Read