• Fredy Rivas

The Empress of Fort Macleod

Actualizado: 2 de abr de 2020


She’s a little tipsy

It’s 9 o’clock in the night. The cold roam through the wide and empty streets of the town. The horizon is very low -on account of the plain nature of the settlement- and the only thing that peeps over the line of houses and stores is the railway and its lonely red lights. We came around that, at least on the main street, red light dominates over a court of cafes, breweries and little bars, closed most of them at this hour.


The warm light has its source on the Empress of Fort Macleod. An aged woman, yes, but beautiful as a fashioned lady of the 20’s. Looking at her you cannot think on anything else. She’s a little tipsy in her solitude ­-that’s the image of her you get in the open night-, elegantly tipsy and disposed for an animated chat. Her solely presence overcome the loneliness and the shadows of the knight and she knows it. That’s why she’s so proud, the tallest of all ladies on main street -her valet de chambre is the café-restaurant building on the front sidewalk, with his light-off vertical marquee-.She can stand by her own and all his architectural retinue it’s all theatrical display, not the essence of her nature.


The Empress Theatre was builded on the second decade of twentieth century and conserves the halo of modern times that made up the charm of the past century culture and architecture. Though Fort Macleod have a little more preeminence in townspeople mindset and history -representing the clash of Canadian Mounted Police interests with First Nations settlements on the North-West-, the Empress have a powerful ascendance on town-people everyday life, marking its way to art, cinema and music, like a church dedicated to the joys of life.


As a living survivor from the past -on plain use of her faculties-, the Empress of Fort Macleod is the crown of the local and widespread interest on History and its remnants, interest expressed on the several antique stores laid by the streets. The store attendants are historians on its own -Cindy, Jerry, Dan and Diane, just to quote a few names-, dedicating a good portion of their lives to show to others the living pulse that inhabits the world of objects, always prone to tell personal stories, to tell the shared stories and histories of North-West Alberta. Even local motels, as in the case of the Red Coat Inn, assume the role of living museums, narrating the visit of musicians and cinema celebrities. Even, as I write this lines, a Bo Diddley black and white photography radiates the smile of the bluesman over the Motel entrance counter. The attendant is proud. Bo Didley -as well as other remarkable people- was here. Bo Didley lives here.


September 2019

Juan Carlos Montero Vallejo

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