Thursday 23 August 2018

Chancellor Memorial Hall

In the days when pilgrims rode the Canadian Pacific Railway in search of golden crops, places like the Chancellor Memorial Hall served as dance central, and a site for weddings and wakes.

Chancellor is a dot on the map between Standard and Hussar, which are dwarfs between the Prairie towns of Drumheller and Strathmore. Though Chancellor once boasted a two-storey hotel with a “beer parlour,” the town seemed to have since disappeared.

In the end, we found Chancellor – a one-time boom town – has only six houses and the memorial hall left to it. Six houses translates to a total population of less than 15, at one time the town’s once thriving economy included five grain elevators, oil depot, Ford dealership, and a stockyard. Those were Chancellor’s days of promise, before the drought of 1929 and a fire in the ’50s which destroyed half of main street.

Back to the hall – already in a state of decline, the town’s fortunes evaporated further when a fire started in the hotel and spread up and down main street, torching the original memorial hall among other buildings. The general store was spared, and later bought by a co-operative of farmers who re-branded it as the Chancellor Memorial Hall. While Chancellor continued to fade through the late 20th century, residents say the hall still played host to lively dances until 2000.

The hall – which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2008 – is no longer in use. On our visit in July 2018, the hall has been moved back from its original location and is sitting on blocks. It appears that the new owners that will be giving it a new lease on life - which was confirmed by the owners when we visited. They welcomed us over from the nearby street to talk and to reassure us that they will restore it to what it was originally and have it opened up so the local community can enjoy it and relive some memories... We look forward to returning!

- Jason Paul Sailer