In A Pickle  

Visiting Alberta's 'Buckets of Blood Hotel'

Haunted hotel

“Did you see the curtains move?” I asked.

Crystal snickered and rolled her eyes.

“Oh Mom, you're hilarious!” she replied.

“Seriously though, I can’t shake the feeling we’re being watched. My goose bumps aren’t just from being out here in -30 C,” I insisted.

We stood there, shivering outside the infamous Rose Deer Hotel looking up at the windows, in Wayne, Alberta. They dubbed the inn “Buckets of Blood Hotel” because of its violent history. There were bar fights between the coal miners in the early 1900s in its Last Chance Saloon. The cryptic warning was your last chance to get out alive.

The good ol’ soot-covered boys weren’t afraid, they had liquid courage and were civilized enough to take their drunken disputes outside, where the blood flowed as fast as the whiskey.

The mine’s managers promised the immigrant workers good housing and nutritious meals at the camp, but instead the workers were on the menu. Bedbugs and lice chewed the guys up and they lived in squalid, overcrowded conditions with revolting food. It was an age-old problem of profits over people, which made those fellows a tad volatile.

When the men finished work, they painted the town red, at the nearby watering hole. Back in its heyday, it was hailed as a place where angels feared to tread, along with the police. The latter weren’t likely to survive, so the town policed itself. Murder and mayhem were the norm.

A double homicide took place on the third floor of the Rose Deer. The victims were of Ukrainian and Russian descent. They worked alongside others to get the mines unionized. The company owners hired the Klu Klux Klan to rough them up and shut them up. Alas, the two men died. The Klan also burned crosses in the hills behind the hotel to further terrorize any dissidents.

Since then, the floor where the men met their demise has been closed to the public. The unnamed martyrs are believed to haunt the place. However, the dead know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), so there must be something far more insidious going on there.

To this day, the barmaids and other staff often hear their names being called in empty rooms and when they investigate, there’s no one there. Ethereal images allegedly float about the place giving regulars the heebie-jeebies.

However, those ghoulish encounters didn’t spook a horse named Tinker Belle. The mare frequented the joint for a pint of beer until the health inspector barred her from the premises. She was probably underage anyway.
A bartender in the 1970s would’ve made Clint Eastwood proud by firing off his .45 at non-paying patrons. Those lucky punks scrambled out of there, probably wishing they had worn Depends.

The marksman carefully aimed above their heads, giving them a good scare. Afterwards, they lovingly framed the bullets embedded in the walls, using them as a warning for anyone who would drink and dash.

The place has become a popular spot for ghost hunters who want to experience the paranormal and create documentaries. The hotel has appeared in movies, like Running Brave, In Cold Blood, and Shanghai Noon. I think (horror writer) Stephen King would feel at home filming and staying at the Rose Deer.

The hotel is open seasonally and, if you’re into dark tourism, this facility should be on your bucket list. Most of the rooms have a theme, such as The Titanic, The Golf Room, and The Harley. It is complete with a honeymoon suite appropriate for Goths.

On the pub walls hang many taxidermies of wild animals, some of which are wearing party hats and other bizarre accessories.

Down the road is a staged crowbar hotel advertising free room and board. Near the town’s campsite is a creepy weather-beaten plaster sculpture of a pioneer woman and her child dressed in terry cloth togas. I thought I heard faint maniacal laughter coming from them. It reminded me of the 1959 Bucket of Blood horror movie, where a guy kills people to make statues. Maybe these were two of his victims.

My mind was playing tricks on me and it was brutally cold in early February, so off we went ,back to our original historic miner’s shack Airbnb in Drumheller, where we slept with the lights on.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More In A Pickle articles

About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories