Last Saturday, July 27, was a very special day in Rowley. As with many towns throughout Alberta, it was their centennial anniversary. Located five kilometres off of Highway 56 on the western edge of the Drumheller-Stettler constituency, it has the old-world charm that’s hard to find these days in our modern society.
One of my favourite responsibilities as MLA for Drumheller-Stettler is attending celebrations like the one held in Rowley. This little Prairie gem has only about a dozen permanent residents, but many of the local rural folks show up to express their pride in this richly historic part of Alberta.
The town’s appearance is much like it would have been in the early part of the 20th century, with several time-period storefronts that line the main street. The locals have lovingly restored, repaired and rebuilt many of the authentic buildings inside and out.
Upon my arrival in this lively little town, the first thing I took notice of was the overwhelming number of people in attendance, enjoying the festivities. My tour guide through many of the historic buildings was Lorraine, who with her husband, have devoted a great deal of time into preserving the treasures that make this little town a must-see.
Our first stop on the tour was the train station that comes complete with family heirlooms, left to the town by the descendants of the early settlers in the area. Many of the items in the station are authentic equipment that would have been found in a train station in the early 20th century.
Our next stop was the schoolhouse that featured the teacher’s living-quarters, which would make even the smallest modern apartment seem palatial by comparison.
Posted there on the wall were the rules, circa 1915, that the teacher employed by the community was expected to follow. These rules the teacher was expected to follow, which left little opportunity for anything but work, included “you will not marry during the time of your contract” and “you must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.”
The tour continued through town with stops at the grain elevators and the bank, which were critical pieces in the town’s infrastructure during the early 1900s.
Lorraine saved the best part of the tour for last — Sam’s Saloon. She had mentioned it several times as we walked through the town, saying, “Once you get in there, I won’t get you out, so we’ll go there last.”
After stepping through the swinging saloon doors, I understood clearly what she was talking about. As I stood there in the sawdust that covered the floor, I realized that it was a place filled with character and an atmosphere that exemplifies the true values of Albertans.
The last Saturday evening of every month is pizza night at the saloon. If you’re in the mood for a great evening out, I highly recommend Rowley. The saloon is owned and operated by the community.
Thank you to Lorraine and everyone that made Rowley’s centennial an event I’ll always remember.
— From the Legislature