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The Town of Rosebud: Cultural Gem on the Canadian Prairies

Updated on May 14, 2016

Rosebud Alberta

Rosebud looks a typical Alberta town: with a grain elevator, and a cat!
Rosebud looks a typical Alberta town: with a grain elevator, and a cat! | Source

Consider Rosebud For Your Alberta Trip

Are you planning a trip in the Alberta area, and looking for more things to do? Why not consider the rare gem of Rosebud, a small town off the beaten track, but definitely worth discovering!

Smack In the middle of Southern Alberta farmland, where the usual conversation centres around combines, the weather, and the latest hockey news, sits a culture mecca of art, drama and talent: the little town of Rosebud, Alberta.

Rosebud is a small hamlet that looks similar to other small towns in Western Canada, with its big grain elevator and plethora of pickup trucks.

The railway tracks run through town, beside the Wheat Pool terminal, and dogs and kids roam the streets with impunity. But Rosebud, Alberta is far from your typical Alberta prairie town. Here you will find culture, plays, music and entertainment.

Good Times At Rosebud

A shot of the Dinner Theatre building, once the general store of the town.
A shot of the Dinner Theatre building, once the general store of the town. | Source

Rosebud School of the Arts

When Rosebud start to become the cultural mecca it is today? Well, the whole process started almost thirty years ago. In 1973, a young music and art teacher named Laverne Erickson, had a dream to start an summer outreach for urban young people who had never experienced country life. He chose a small, beautiful valley called, Rosebud, Alberta, for his venture.

In the next few years, the ministry grew into a weekend retreat for teens, and by 1977, an actual high school where students could come and learn about the arts and country living in a small, safe setting called the Rosebud School of the Arts.

In 1983, the students decided to launch a play called "Commedia Del' Arte," based on the medieval plays of the same name. The plays were hilarious and spontaneous. They served dinner, too.That night served as the first Rosebud Dinnner Theatre.The combination of a fun show and delicious home-cooked food, put on by the students, turned out to be very popular.

The high school ran until 1987. In 1986, the school added what was then called the Fine Arts Guild, where students, past high school ages, could study the arts intensively. In 1988, the Alberta government granted the school the right to be an official institution of higher learning. Students from all over Canada come to study acting, directing, play-writing, technical theatre, music, and the visual arts.

This professional school runs alongside and very deeply intertwined with the Rosebud Dinner Theatre.

Beauty of Rosebud

Click thumbnail to view full-size
In the Rosebud Valley: a river bend. Beautiful picture of Rosebud, from the hills above. A sign on the hill from the high school days. Such a peaceful place! It looks so typically rural but it's also a cultural mecca.
In the Rosebud Valley: a river bend.
In the Rosebud Valley: a river bend. | Source
Beautiful picture of Rosebud, from the hills above.
Beautiful picture of Rosebud, from the hills above. | Source
A sign on the hill from the high school days.
A sign on the hill from the high school days. | Source
Such a peaceful place!
Such a peaceful place! | Source
It looks so typically rural but it's also a cultural mecca.
It looks so typically rural but it's also a cultural mecca. | Source

Rosebud Dinner Theatre

The Rosebud Dinner Theatre, started that fateful night in 1977, is a world-class entertainment venue that runs in close conjunction with the Rosebud School of the Arts. Students pay for their tuition by helping out in the kitchen and other facilities. Older students act and sing in the plays and are mentored by the more experienced actors and producers.

Patrons arrive nightly, to be entertained and nourished. Before the show, guests enjoy an extravagant buffet dinner, with three courses, several entrees and a selection of desserts. While eating their delicious meal, local musicians and students serenade them with lively, personal performances. An hour or so after dinner, guests move over to the Opera House, just down the block, and are seated in this 200-person theatre with perfect acoustics. The facility feels so small that no one feels but a whisper away from the actors.

Recent Rosebud productions have included "Jake and the Kid," a play based on the book by W.O. Mitchell, "Fiddler on the Roof," and "Oliver!" The productions are often original, and most always include a musical component. At the time this article is being written, the stage is showing "The Gift of the Magi," and the next production is a rendition of the "The Little Prince.

Booking starts a few weeks in advance for the shows, planned a year in advance. Tickets can be purchased for dinner theatre, which includes serenades by local talent and a full course meal, or for the theatre production alone. Many come from the city of Calgary nearby, and accommodation is available at the Rosebud Country Inn. Over 40,00 guests are served every year by the Rosebud Theatre.

Rosebud Recently Nominated for "CultureVille"

Where Is Rosebud?

Calgary, Alberta:
Calgary, AB, Canada

get directions

Calgary is the nearest major city to Rosebud.

Rosebud Alberta:
Rosebud, AB T0J, Canada

get directions

This small town is a gem of creativity and arts.

Drumheller, Alberta:
Drumheller, AB, Canada

get directions

Rosebud is only a half hour drive from Drumheller, a big tourist draw in Alberta that boasts a dinosaur museum.

Great Falls, Montana:
Great Falls, Mt, USA

get directions

For Americans who might think Canada is so far away, it's really not. Rosebud is approximately 7 hours away from Great Falls, Montana.

Rehearsals From One Of the Recent Shows, "Jake and the Kid"

Author's Note

Rosebud, Alberta is dear to my heart, personally. This small valley is where I received the first two years of my high school education: a small arts school where we studied drama, choir and groups of 3 or 10 students formed classes taught by teachers in blue jeans. Teachers who barely earned a living wage.

Those two years, 1984-1986, I acted in several plays, toured with the choir, and explored a love of creativity and beauty. In the summer of 1986, my grade eleven year, I acted with the older actors who were studying at the art guild, for a paying audience. The experience was life-changing as I watched real actors and actresses, and performed alongside of them.

I have since moved away from the area but have managed to make it back a few times. The last time I went, I was thrilled to take my two nieces, to experience the magic of Rosebud. These two young girls from a new generation loved it the place anew. I left the school in 1986, but Rosebud will always be in my heart.

I Miss You, My Rosebud

Rosebud, my Rosebud, I dream of you sometimes,
The valley of whimsy, the haven of rhymes.

Rosebud, I love you, even from far away,
I dream of your passion: your love of the play.

You're a place of pretend, a refuge from cold,
Actors and singers come to you to unfold.

A tribe called creative lives in your hills,
Away from the traffic, the hassle and pills.

Rosebud, you give the world a show every night,
With music and laughter, a blessed delight.

I miss you, my Rosebud, you are in my dreams,

Your power, o'er me, is endless, it seems.


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