Guest blog by Terry Bachynski
Whenever you are looking for a day away from the city, our natural tendencies in Calgary and Edmonton are to look and head west to the Rockies. A day of hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing or just taking in the beauty of our Rocky Mountains is always a great respite from the city traffic and pace.
However, there is so much more that our province offers. My wife, Laura, and I like to explore Alberta randomly. Just get in the car and head in any direction and see what we can find. Exploring small towns is one of our favourite ways to spend a free day.
One such day adventure, near 30 years ago, lead us north and east out of Calgary. We headed for Drumheller and the Badlands. But, we never got there. Heading east on Highway 9 we came upon a road sign that said “Rosebud 10 km”. Rosebud? The name was too tempting.
We had to see it for ourselves. A south turn onto secondary highway 840 and a short trip down a winding, up and down road finally ended (literally) in a small valley along the Rosebud River and the quaint hamlet of Rosebud.
Along the road to Rosebud
Entering Rosebud from atop the valley you first notice a small grouping of prairie town buildings and the ever present grain elevator to the south. As we approached, we noticed that, unlike other isolated and all too forgotten prairie hamlets, this cluster of buildings looked in reasonably good shape and in use!
We quickly determined that Rosebud was more than what met the eye. The entire town exists and thrives beyond its history of farming and coal mining. The town is a hub of artistic creativity. That first accidental visit found us arriving just in time for the buffet dinner and stage show. We grabbed a couple of tickets, enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner and then crossed the street to the opera house for the live show.
The economic and creative anchor for the town is the Rosebud School of the Arts and Rosebud Theatre. Doing a little research for this blog, I discovered that the artistic heartbeat of the town started with a “one-off” summer camp for high school kids in 1977. Since then, the Rosebud School of the Arts has grown into a post-secondary educational institution focused on development of theatre arts.
The Rosebud Theatre offers a full year of live stage productions in the restored and renovated prairie opera house as well as second studio stage. The productions are far ranging - dramas, musicals, comedies - and always family friendly. We’ve seen dozen of shows over the years and we are never disappointed with the production quality and talent on the stage. These actors have chops!
Over the years, we have come to know many of the people who work and live in Rosebud. It is always a treat to visit and spend a couple of days in the area. When you go, you’ve got plenty of options for comfortable and welcoming accommodations.
The Rosebud Country Inn is run by BJ. She’s a sweetheart and took over the Country Inn 7 or 8 years ago. It’s a great place to stay with delicious afternoon tea and pie served up most afternoons.
If BJ’s is full, there are several other options. The Actor’s Studio B&B is operated by Nathan and Cassia, both excellent actors who frequent the boards on the Rosebud stage. Nathan also makes a mean apple pancake breakfast that just makes your mouth water. Delicious!
The Rose Cottage Bed and Breakfast is a unique experience every time you visit. John and Sue decorate the breakfast room in the theme of the current mainstage show at the time. On our last visit, the entire room was dressed up like a set from Downton Abbey.
Sue’s home town cooking is delicious. During our last visit, they invited us to have dinner with them and we were fed a feast fit for a harvest crew. In fact, that is what it was. Sue and John also provide hot dinners to the harvest crew of a local farmer every night during harvest season and deliver the meal to the workers in the field. They invited us to join them.
Thankfully, for us, the “on location” dinner was canceled because a cold front moved in. (We didn’t have the right clothes for the field.) So, we just pulled up to their kitchen table and chowed down on delicious sausage, root vegetables, purple cabbage and a spectacular apple crisp accented with a zest of orange. What a treat!
Link: Rosebud Country Inn B&B
The hamlet also swings way above its weight class with the various shops available to theatre patrons. The Mercantile, Kith and Kin and other shops offer lovely, artistic and unique products, many created by local artisans. You are certain to find something special that you will not find “in the mall” back home.
We have spent a valentine’s weekend in Rosebud where the entire town pulled together to create a wonderful experience for couples. We, along with several other couples who flocked to Rosebud for Valentine’s Day enjoyed many special events created by the community for us.
Of course, we took in the dinner theatre and second stage productions. However, we also enjoyed bonfires, hay rides, cooking classes, coffee tasting classes (just like wine tasting, but with varieties of coffees – we learned so much about the art of coffee making), live music performances and many other special experiences created just for the town’s guests.
Since accidentally stumbling upon this prairie gem, Laura and I have become more connected with the community. We are both artists and retired actors, ourselves, so, perhaps our connection to the community has something to do with our personal interests.
This connection, however, has created an opportunity for us as well. The community supports artists. We currently have our art hanging in the Akokiniskiway Art Gallery through to the end of October. All proceeds from the sale of our art go to support the Rosebud School of the Arts.
A Prairie Success Story
Of course, so many people would say there is nothing to do in a small, isolated prairie hamlet. How could you possibly keep yourself engaged and interested when you can literally walk from one end of town to the other in less than five minutes? I can promise you that Rosebud will surprise and delight you.
Rosebud is a prairie success story. A small hamlet that has re-invented itself and has created an oasis of creativity and community generosity. The entire town thrives because they care about what they have created.
So, take a couple of days, book a room at a local B&B, take in the current stage production, enjoy dinner, take a walk down the main street and explore the Akokiniskiway Art Gallery. Get to know Rosebud.
You’ll come back for more.
"Gentle Scenes Gentle Dreams" is the title of Laura and Terry's exhibition at the Akokiniskiway Art Gallery until the end of October 2016. Below is their artists' statement:
Laura and Terry Bachynski are both heavily influenced by their daily experiences from their travels within and beyond Alberta’s boarders. The married couple travel often and widely, frequently with paints and canvas in tow, seeking out new experiences.
Laura is often drawn to the stories of intimate spaces and images that translate to the detailed attention to mood and personal experience in her images. Often you feel that you can sit and rest inside one of Laura’s paintings and become a part of the setting.
Terry looks at the landscape as an inspiration to allow his imagination to create images of flowing skies, rolling hills and distant horizons. Many of his paintings, although inspired by his experience in the landscape, manifest in an almost abstract interpretation of all that surrounds us.
Laura’s artistic expression is founded in the intimacies of life’s scenes while Terry’s interpretations look beyond the physical space and explore the energy that lies behind it. Both artists, in their own way, praise God for the beauty around us and endeavor to share their experience of The Great Creation with others through their works.