Located in the ghost town of Wayne, Alberta, the Last Chance Saloon has been the stuff of local legend for over a century.
Favorite tales about the saloon include the time a bartender fired a few warning shots at customers who refused to pay for their drinks; those bullet holes are now framed on the wall. There’s also the story of the owner’s horse, Tinkerbell, who was a regular “long” face at the bar until local health inspectors banned the popular equine customer. In the 1970s, the bar’s owner successfully lobbied for allowing dancing in taverns, something that had been banned in Alberta.
Wayne has its own fascinating history. Part of the Drumheller Valley’s coal boom in the early 20th century, the town was one of many in the area that attracted thousands of workers to the coal mines, including the nearby Rosedeer Mine (the Rosedeer Hotel adjoining the saloon is named in its honor). The work was dangerous, and living conditions were poor for the local miners, which led to the establishment of miners’ unions. Violence—both as part of anti-union intimidation tactics and simply between overworked, intoxicated miners—abounded in the valley. The Last Chance Saloon was no exception: The bar’s nickname in the 1920s was the “Bucket of Blood.” The Rosedeer Hotel’s third floor is even rumored to be haunted by a former pro-union coal miner.
After the mines shut down in the 1950s, the town’s population dwindled from 2,000 to fewer than 300 residents. Today, the population hovers around 30 remaining residents. But the Last Chance Saloon still stands, serving locals and visitors with beer, burgers, and a side of history.
Know Before You Go
To reach the town from Drumheller, you must drive over 9 of the famed "11 Bridges of Wayne," a series of single-lane bridges criss-crossing the Rosebud River.