History greets you at every turn. Use the guide to see our Heritage Moments.
Dating to the 1930s, this original log building has welcomed many visitors. Long term Waskesiu business people have been involved in the Red Deer’s history, Doc & Ma Sissons, Charlie & Jean Ashley, Marj & Al Matheson, Joe and Barb Krieg, and Gary Gagne & Dory Graae.
In the days before not just cell phones but also before individual land line phones in the townsite, the Red Deer used to house the only public phone line. Ma Sissons operated the switchboard and would send messengers to notify people who received calls. It is said that she used to walk around town noting vehicle license plates so she knew people’s whereabouts when a call came in.
“Jim Munro, as a young teenager with a bike, was hired by one Ma Sissons in 1937 or 1938. Why Mrs. Sissons was called ‘Ma’ is a mystery, since she wasn’t known for having a warm and nurturing personality. However, she was the proprietor of the Red Deer Chalet, which had rooms to rent and a lunch counter, as well as housing the only telephone line into Waskesiu.
"Jim was hired to deliver telegrams and telephone messages. When Jim arrived to report for work, he was advised that a kitchen staff member had to be replaced and Jim was given an apron and told to do dishes, carry out garbage, and to help out with the cooking – a task for which he did not feel prepared. After working many hours, Jim advised Ma he would like to quit. He was advised he would not get any pay unless he stayed for the weekend.
"…The weekend passed and Jim received the grand sum of $2.00 for a week’s work. Apparently, during Jim’s kitchen shift, a few pies went missing, which his buddies thoroughly enjoyed. They all agreed they were simply participating in poetic justice. “
Contributed by Betty McLeod Anderson (nee Davey) to Waskesiu Memories, Volume I edited by Dorell Taylor.
“Many couples had their honeymoon at the Red Deer. I often saw people come and have their picture taken in front of it as it was a unique building. It was built in the early ‘30’s, owned by Doc and Ma Sissons. Judging from the stories you hear, they were quite a couple! Ma never turned anyone away even if she had to set up a cot in the kitchen. I remember seeing her at the switchboard as she ran the telephone exchange. Later it was moved to the Pleasant Inn.
"Charley and Jean Ashley bought the Chalet in 1958. Charley renovated it and later added four motel units at the back. He worked very hard to beautify a fine structure. Now it is a restaurant once again and the walls have all been removed to show the log structure. The outside is modernized with a deck etcetera and it still stands as a beautiful Heritage building.
"For a few years, Karen Brown had the Sun Togs business in the front left corner of the Red Deer Chalet.”
Contributed to Waskesiu Memories, Volume II by Marjorie Matheson, who along with her husband Al, ran the Red Deer Motel for seven years.
“Tim’s Dime Delivery
"In 1946, aged six and nine, my cousin Bill Dupre and I decided to go into business. My wagon had seen better days and I was too old to play with it. Our Gramp Walker built a box on top of it and painted “Tim’s Dime Delivery” on it. In 1946, many people still didn’t own cars. We targeted the thirty or so non-car-owner bus passengers arriving at Waskesiu’s Red Deer Lodge bus station and wanting to haul their suitcases to their tourist accommodation. We averaged about five customers per day which translated to $5.00 per day for about two hours work, pretty good by 1946 standards.”
Thomas O. (Tim) Davis, Waskesiu Memories, Volume III, edited by Dorell Taylor
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