The Ballad of Countess

What follows is a poem that incorporated history of the area with creative flair. I would like to encourage the writers, poets and musicians out there to send their historic creative pieces in for publishing. If it is music I ask for a link to a YouTube video we can reference too, otherwise make submissions in word.

Thank you…and now onto the Ballad of Countess:One may catch a glimpse
Of the whisp of spectral light
As she walks down the abandoned ghostly street
In the alien’s glow a nightly
As the cows serenade the gophers
Through a thrumming mooo
Of a hamlet built on capitalist’s spikes
And Royal Line Rail Road pennies
The name bought by the Marquis,
She is the lovely wife of Bassano,
A Countess, whose money CP used to build a town.
From stage coaches
To Calgary Stampedes
To a century later,
Rolling through towns
Granting Children’s wishes
And healing sick kids
Mennonites, Buddhists, Mormons and more
Paid to settle
To farm and build
A Community…
No more
As the wind cleanses
The spectral soil of sludge
From old gas station tanks
Main Street comes alive
With Guns of the Golden West
A Cock crows
Llamas dance
Horses race
As a gator roars to life
Barn cats purr
As Dogs saunter through Tee Pee’s
And Cabins sprout from the land
One calls through ancient flames given by Prometheus
To Man
For the Fire Department of her husband’s name to rescue
As a historic Pumper Truck
Rolls through bringing cheers
From kids of all ages
For on a quiet country night
As you roll by the Caboose
Of the ol’ Royal Line
You can still see her shine
In the night light
Calling for adventure


Bassano Hotel-1911

Submitted by friend of the Museum, Rae Latimer:

In keeping with the topic of hotels, I am pleased to share the following story from the front page of the Bassano News publication of October 12, 1911.

October 12, 1911

Hunter Hotel Opened Today

The Finest Hotel Between Calgary and Medicine Hat

(BN) With accommodation for almost one hundred guests, with attractive and up-to-date fittings throughout, hot and cold water and all modern conveniences, the Hunter Hotel, the best between Calgary and the Hat, opens its doors today with a dance and banquet to which everyone is heartily welcomed.

It is a hotel of which Bassano may be proud and upon which Mr. T. H. Hunter, the proprietor, may be warmly congratulated. No expense has been spared to ensure the comfort of each guest and to procure the best hygienic features, and it is bound to be a paying venture from the start. The rooms fittings by the Bassano Trading Company are elaborate and cozy.

A gasoline pump provides the upper rooms constantly with water and a huge boiler in the basement provides the warm water. Every one of the 48 upper rooms are wired for electric light and are fitted for natural gas. Meanwhile, the illumination will be acetylene gas. Particular attention has been devoted to the large kitchen over which Charlie Schwab, whose cooking is well known and relished in Bassano, will reign. Inspection of this is urged. It is spacious, airy, cool, and possesses one of the most modern cooking ranges known. Adjoining it is a cool storeroom which when provided with a refrigerator will be proof against germs. The dining room is attractive in the extreme, the tables are only made for four so that there will be no crowding and are laid diagonally to one another. A plate rail runs the length of the dining room lined with expensive and attractive looking china.

The house throughout is finished with oak which gives the interior a pleasing harmonious appearance.

The sample rooms are quite a feature of the house, and the drummer will find ample and proper accommodation for his wares. A huge cool cellar running the length of the house will be cut up for storerooms.

Each floor has its own sumptuously furnished parlor leading out on to spacious balconies.

From the rotunda to the roof the same standard of completeness and comfort is maintained, even to the conveniently placed iron fire escapes.

As soon as possible it is promised that the whole hotel will be brick veneered. It is easily the largest building in town and will be a much sought after resort immediately its doors are opened.

Silver Dollars, Royal Rumbles

silver dollar

Say What? Dollars and rumbles? Are these the Saloon Doors that would take Marshall Dillon to Miss Kitty (for those who unfortunately do not know the great Gunsmoke, listen to to Toby Keith’s Should’ve Been a Cowboy). Nope, these doors though took one to the action…Wrasslin’ and bowlin’ that is.

They are the saloon doors to Frank Sisson’s Silver Dollar Action Centre (now the Century Casino) which was once part of the landscape in Calgary, AB. As a kid, I knew of it, due to bowling and, like I said, wrasslin’ (the kind of Stampede, not WWE). Stampede Wrestling had just been bought out but the local 2&7 television station still had a Saturday afternoon contract open for a show, and Mr. Sisson was a fan…enter Canadian Wrestling Alliance which ran out of the Silver Dollar in 1990 on Friday Nights live (it concluded it’s run in 2013 through other venues), with the edited show on Saturday’ at 1 p.m. Later in the 1990’s the saloon would be open to all ages during WWF (now WWE) pay-per-view events.

Image result for Frank Sisson's Silver Dollar action centre

But what does this have to do with the Royal Line History and Countess, AB in particular you may ask?

The answer is simple, it all started at a Bassano rodeo…with a won Silver Dollar…

(On July 27, 2019 a wind storm wiped out our storage huts for the Countess Country Museum, we are still unsure how many of the artifacts were lost).


Royal Line Gone with the Wind


Living in the County of Newell and on the Royal Line, one thing you get used to is the wind. What you do not expect upon returning from a day-cation is that you have entered the MGM wonderful Wizard of Oz and be Aunty Em’s farm. This is what the reality of Wayne and Sherry’s return from Maple Creek, SK to Countess Country Museum.

The Prairie History start-up was blown away by the wind. Any Albertan can share that this summer has been a cycle of heat-severe thunderstorms- tornado warnings…to windstorms. On July 27, 2019 the weather had the heat of 30 degrees, and thunderstorm warnings rolled through Southern Alberta. But a picture is worth a thousand words:


Carriage & Stage Coach post wind

At this point we are unsure of the damage as we attempt to get the carriage and stage coach free, but there is damage.

For more information or to help, please contact Wayne (403-701-0775) or Sherry (403-701-0778) as we rebuild and renew the history of the Royal Line, with all the bumps, hiccups, and challenges of the prairie pioneers along the way.

Please Share the story….




IMG_1736 (1)
Blown across the fence to next farm

Happy Canada Day

The 152nd Canada Day (formerly Dominion Day) was a blast. The Chronicle family was on the road of the Royal Line down to the Village of Rosemary for the annual festivities. This year saw the fun of the bubble people on water, pickle ball, air brush tattoos, food trucks, the 30th Rosemary School Reunion, Gem MB Youth fundraising, bungee seat, Beach Volley Ball Tournament, Mobile Escape Room (sorry need to catch our breath)…. oh and it kicked off with a pancake breakfast, a Parade (10 a.m.)-where you will note first responders from Patricia, Duchess and Rosemary— with many vintage and fancy cars in the Show & Shine along main street that followed, oh and a pop-up market of vendors.

Whew! Poppa and Grandma met us from Countess for a picnic in the midst of the fun. This evening there will be fireworks at dusk if you are in the area!

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words…so I leave you with a photo montage of a great day!

Canada Day

A week away from what once was known as “Dominion Day”. It was the celebration of the creation of the Dominion of Canada, by The British North America Act, July 1, 1867. In 1879 the day became and official holiday. On Oct. 27, 1982 it was renamed to the now familiar Canada Day.

This Canada Day, come down the Royal Line and celebrate with the neighbours in Rosemary:

Parade is 10 a.m. not 10:30 a.m.

Soul Ripples: Celebrate 80 Years of Countess Bible School

The purpose of a prairie Bible School was to equip preachers, lay leaders and teachers to disciple the church members. That is to undertake the journey to Understand the old, old stories and what it means for today’s life.

To celebrate 80th anniversary of the Countess Bible School, a special memoir is being published as a pastor seeks to understand his own and his family’s journey in things spiritual and mental health:

coverSoul Ripples 

Written by Tyler Ragan, Psy. D 

Bookstand Publishing, 2019 

There were simple values passed down through the generations of the Ragan family. Basically, it was being neighbourly, whether it came from a religious or non-religious point of view. Throughout the generations’ decisions were made whether to suppress the bad, deal with it, or embrace love and the good. It was the stories shared, some hidden, and when unburied brought healing. 

It was in this life that the formal Christian Formation of Ty Ragan happened at his godparents’ church, Centennial Presbyterian, through their Vacation Bible School. These summers accentuated the already ingrained formation of loving your neighbour as yourself.  

Ty, spent a lifetime attempting to answer the question, as many formed in social gospel framework, “Who is my neighbour?” through journalism, teaching, church ministry, addictions work, outreaching to those being trafficked sexually, rough campers, those in homeless shelters, dementia wards, youth correction centres, affordable housing and everything in between. It was answering the question of who the neighbour is, and how to love them that drove his life’s vocation. 

Until May 2014 innocuous hand tremor led him to a doctor who told him to drink more water. By 2016 mysterious micro-strokes and seizures would occur. On his 39th birthday in 2017 a reign of mental destruction of high double-digit mystery seizures, failing memory, tremoring body and mystery vomiting would take him out of his vocation in October 2017, as he would simply weep “I can’t”. 

The journey would lead him to centre on a new question, the first part of the second love command, love yourself or more directly: 

Where does the helper go when they need help? 

Soul Ripples is his family’s story of laughter, love, tears, pain, loss, addiction, mental health, violence, community, friends, grieving and the steps towards healing. Learn a new way of experiencing life. That’s right, the faithful servant discovering what it means to experience life with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the living into the Wilderness to find healing. It is a story for not only individuals but churches that shows we are not alone, we are not independent, we are truly an interdependent people. Created by the Holy on the 6th day poetically, called blessed and Very Good. Discover the Soul Ripples. 

Order here.

Another round of are you smarter than a grade schooler?

It is the unending challenge, and great family fun. Take a look at the pictures of some of the artifacts on-site.

  1. Can you guess what they are?
  2. Share the process you took to come to that conclusion.
  3. Share with your family, kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews and great grandkids…what do they see?

It’s not only fun, it’s a time to be with family, and discover how to constructively use the scientific method (seen in Alberta schools thanks to Countess, Alberta).