Rosebud Historical Society

President: Art Hudson


Secretary: Peter Lauridsen


117 Main St., Box 601,
Rosebud, Alberta, T0J 2T0

(403) 677-2601 during open hours

Bonita Hudson - Collections Manager
cell: (403) 820-2870)

Hours of operation:

Always during Rosebud Theatre
Opera House shows Wednesday through Saturday - during the summer hours are longer.

Matinee shows: 11:30 am- 1:30 pm
Evening shows: 6:00 pm - 8:00pm

Summer hours we are open more hours during the day however, if you would like to make an appointment during our off hours please phone Bonita Hudson
cell: (403) 820-2870)

Corner view of newly opened museum addition

Located right across from Rosebud Theatre, come enjoy a journey through the past.

Established by members of the Rosebud Lions in 1967, Rosebud Centennial & District Museum highlights the pioneer and ranching history of the Rosebud, Redland and Beynon area. Blackfoot, Cree Metis, ranchers, cowboys, coal miners and settlers were drawn to this beautiful valley.

Explore many unique collections, such as cartoon post cards sent by Dick Cosgrave, ten time chuckwagon race winner at the Calgary Stampede. Marvel at the exploits off legendary rancher Jack Morton (originator of many Calgary Stampede traditions) and gaze upon his nephew Darcy Morton's award winning stampede regalia. Exclaim at the hundreds of salt shakers, and dozens of old fashioned washing machines. Rosebud School of the Arts memorablia are available for visitors to peruse.

One often admired feature is an extraordinary collection of antique tools, which were gathered over a lifetime by the late B.D. "Dude" Cote of Strathmore. Mr. Cote collected from neighbours, attended auction sales and spent many hours to bring his tools into "next to new"condition.

The Museum also features a self-guided walking tour of 12 signs around Rosebud. See brochure available inside the museum.

Rosebud Hotel circa 1920s

Originally, In the 1920´s and 30's the museum building was a Mah Joe´s Laundry, a places where the single men (working for coal mines and the railway), hung out and played cards waiting for their laundry. Later, it was a farm implement and bulk oil dealership and then a coffee shop. The building sat empty and failling into disrepair when the Rosebud Lions Club decided to fix it up and open a museum. The official opening was held in 1967 with then Lieutenant Governor, Grant MacEwan, in attendance.

Most of the original artifacts were collected from local farms and residences. In 1979 the operation of the Museum was taken over by the Rosebud Historical Society. Much of our success can be attributed to Shirley and Rial Barr who spent many hours refurbishing and cataloging the artifacts. Deen Hymas also played a major role in the Museum´s successful operation. George and Jewel Comstock were faithful in keeping the museum operational from 1967-2018.

Significant donations are now tax receiptable through Wheatland County! Phone or email Linda Skibsted for further information. (403) 677-2258)

Rosebud Centennial Museum - a Short History of Rosebud

Commerce | Early History | First Settlers

Rosebud Commerce

photo of main street circa 1926

The first settlers arrived in the Rosebud area in 1885, they followed ranchers from France who had been in the area raising horses and cattle and sheep since 1883.

At that time the closest business center was Gleichen, some 30 miles distant so most settlers traveled there for groceries and supplies. Gleichen was also the source of mail service until January 1901, when the official Rosebud Creek Post Office was established in the Hamlet of Rosebud. It provided fortnightly service between Gleichen and Rosebud Creek until the Canadian National Railway began rail service in 1914 and then daily mail service was provided. In 1922 it officially became the Rosebud Post Office.

old fashioned radioThe hamlet started to flourish after the First World War (1914-1918) with the coming of the CN Railroad. and many businesses prospered. The hotel, store, lumber yard, Chinese café and laundry, a dance hall, pool hall, blacksmith shop, drugstore, bank and dray (hauling by heavy horse) business.

National Grain built an elevator in 1913 and two more companies built elevators in 1917 to accommodate the influx of settlers who were breaking up the prairie sod and planting grains.

Later several machinery dealerships were established: John Deere; Massey Harris; and Harvester served the farmers in the area.

The 1920s were the boom years for Rosebud yet it continued to be the business center for the rural community until the early 1970s when most of the businesses shut down as a result of the local school being combined with nearby Standard School. The Severn Creek School in Rosebud commenced in 1903 and operated for 68 years until it was closed on June 29, 1971.

In 1973, Crescent Heights Baptist Church in Calgary purchased the Rosebud Mercantile Building as part of a camping outreach program called Rosebud Camp of the Arts. Later this property became part of the Rosebud School of the Arts (est. 1976 as Rosebud Centre of the Arts)and Rosebud Theatre (est. 1983 as Rosebud Historical Dinner Theatre). In 1976, members of the supporting community purchased the Rosebud Hotel and transformed it into a dormitory for students and living quarters for staff In 1977 a residential high school was started (with 6 students gowing to a peak of 40 students in grades 10-12) based upon a hands-on curriculum that grew to have a strong emphasis on fine arts. By 1983 most of the staff had young families and more year round income needed to be generated. The first outdoor dinner and theatre was presented that year with the "Comedia D'Arte" production in the rustic backyard of the Mercantile on an outdoor stage and stands. The school cook, Mrs. Gladys Dahlen taking reservations on the kitchen phone.

Early History

in the mid and late 1700s, maps of Northa America published by the Arrowsmith Brothers included Edgecoal Creek "great quantity of coal in this creek". The railway line first established by Canadian Northern Railway (later to become part of CN Railway) was lured by the promise of abundant fuel and built along the Rosebud Creek. Later this soft coal was found to be too soft to be safely burnt so the small coal mines went bust although there was harder coal still mined where the river joined the Red Deer.

By the 1880s the buffalo had been exterminated, leaving the native people starving and destitute. Many of the Blackfoot had been forced by Treaty #7 in 1877 to move to the reservation south of Gleichen which is now called Siksika.

original settlers of RosebudThe first settler in the area was James Wishart, his wife Eliza, three sons and three daughters camped along the Rosebud Creek for a few a days on their Montana (fleeing aftermath of the Metis uprising at Red River, Manitoba). As told in “The Rosebud Trail” by John J. Martin, Jim awakened early one morning ready to continue the trip to Montana … the rising sun shone down the valley upon thousands of budding wild roses: among the sparkling dewdrops the wild honey bees were gathering nectar. To Jim the scene was beautiful, the best he had ever seen and turning to his wife Eliza who was building a campfire, he said “this is too good to leave, here is the promised land; we go no further!”

A group of horse and cattle ranchers from France moved into the area for a time. José Antonio Sala, an old wine merchant wanted to homestead but his family insisted the younger members should brave the cold winters and that was how his daughter, Carmen met the notorious cowboy, Jack Morton. His legend of generousity and larger than life exploits permeates the history of this area.

Many of the settlers endured severe hardship after moving to their homesteads. They were not prepared for the bitter cold and heavy snow of our Alberta winters. There are stories of women who arrived from the old country with their fancy clothes, fine china, and an expensive piano and yet forced to spend their first Canadian winter in a tent.

John Martin writes, “some settlers were forced to give up living in the wilds: they could not stand the prairie loneliness, blizzards, illness and at times even hunger. Also recurring prairie fires burnt many of them out before they got themselves well located and protected. In some cases they had been ill-advised as to the many hazards they would have to face. Some sold their homesteads for as little as $500.00 while others just pulled up stakes and left for civilization, leaving everything behind. Many of the first homes were made of sod with earthen floors. Those settlers fortunate enough to be near a stand of trees built the luxury of a log house.

Between the 1880s and the intrusion of the sod busters, many large ranches had been established with hundreds of thousands of cattle being brought in to feed off the abundance of grass. Some of these farmers felt that if the Buffalo could survive the winter without extra feed, so could cattle. Many ranchers did not bother to put up winter feed. During exceptionally severe winters of 1886 and 1906 thousands of cattle died of hunger and severe cold. The blizzards of 1906 saw cattle run with the wind and pile up in coulees and ravines and there they suffocated or froze to death..

First Settlers

The Pioneers who settled the Rosebud area came from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, in contrast to some of our neighboring communities that settled in ethnic groups. For example, Standard and Dalum were predominately of Danish extraction, many Rockyford were of French background and Carbon pioneers were of German origin.

James Wishart, Rosebud's first settler, came with his parents from the Orkney Islands near Scotland, married Eliza, a Metis woman and spent much of his life in Manitoba before emigrating to Alberta. The story of this family is contained in a book sold by the museum.

main street, Rosebud

Many of the early ranchers came up from the United States with large herds and brought an end to large ranching operations. The National Grain Company built a grain elevator in 1913 and the first wheat was delivered in 1914. One of the best stories concerned this elevator.

"It seems that in 1914 several farmers delivering grain were concerned that they were not getting the proper weight for their wheat. Sometimes the scale weighed light, sometimes heavy, and other times quite accurate. An investigation revealed that two chickens had made their home under the scale where food was plentiful and they roosted on the scale beams, but never in the same place, thus causing the scale to give false readings"

No doubt these two chickens were quickly escorted to the chicken coop (or soup?).

Although the boom days of Rosebud are gone, many of the tools and appliances from the pioneer days still exist.

HOME Copyright © Wild Horse Springs, Updated May 23, 2019.