The bucket of blood: best bar in the world

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June 24th 2008
Published: April 3rd 2009
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After our campervan trip, Scott had to head back to work. The oil rig he works on is off the coast of India and he works 28 days on and then has 28 days off. Going back to work must suck but I can only imagine the excitement he experiences on his last day before 28 days off, I’m excited enough on a Friday afternoon.

Nic and Tina’s mum Jenn still had a week or so in Canada so we made a few trips. The first was back towards Banff to do a few walks. The second was to Drumheller. Drumheller is a small town just over 100km’s northeast of Calgary. It used to be a city during the peak of the coal era in the 1920’s and 30’s but once that died off, so did the population. Still, the town has many tourist attractions the greatest of which, in my opinion is the Last Chance Saloon.

The saloon, which is attached to the Rosedeer Hotel, is situated in a tiny settlement called Wayne, and has been in operation since 1913. Wayne’s population is now at just 27, down from 2000 odd when the miners were in operation. If the walls could talk in this place they would have a stack of amazing tales. I’ll let you in on a few I’ve heard or read.

In the 1920’s the bar was known as “The bucket of blood” because of all the fights that occurred. Perhaps this was partly due to a strong communist party influence amongst the miners, or perhaps the Ku Klux Klan burning their crosses in the hills nearby. Fortunately for the saloon they would go outside to fight.

About 20 years ago the owner was clearing out the hotel’s basement and came across a load of quart sealers, which his mother used for canning fruit and vegies. Instead of throwing them out, he decided to sell beer at a discount price in the sealers on Wednesday nights. The gimmick obviously caught on as it is still going on twenty years later. On Wednesday nights there is even musical entertainment with a couple of locals performing, one on piano, the other tapping together two bones which are supposedly dinosaur bones (not a preposterous proposition in these parts).

The hotel has featured in many ads, music videos, TV shows and was most famously in Jackie Chan’s Shanghai Nights movie. I’m not sure if Tinkerbell, the saloon’s pet horse features in any of these, but she should be given her own show. Why, you ask? Because she drinks beer. This is a bonus for the bar as customers often buy two beers, one for themselves and one for the horse.

I have left the best story for last, sometime in the 1970’s three strangers walked into the saloon and ordered drinks. When the bartender bought them their drinks, they refused to pay. So the bartender calmly walked back to the bar, pulled out a .45-calibre revolver, and fired three shots in the wall, one over each of their heads. The bullet holes can still be seen in the wall today. I’m not sure how the story ends but I’m pretty bloody sure they would have paid.

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