ROSEBUD, Alta. — Life in this Alberta hamlet moves as slowly as a porcupine crossing a grid road on a sweltering summer day.
“You don’t have to drive anywhere in Rosebud unless you’re in a hurry,” said resident Donovan Snider, 12.
“The only time there is traffic is during shows.”
Rosebud Theatre produces four shows a year, attracting more than 40,000 people annually to the community of less than 100.
Donovan’s father, David, is an actor who performs at the theatre and teaches at the theatre school, which houses 30 students a year.
He said the once declining community reinvented itself as an arts destination.
“The valley for many people is deeply resonant of values and a rest,” he said.
Prior to coming here, David and his wife, Jeany, worked for the Chemainus Theatre Festival on Vancouver Island.
The U.S. born couple and their sons, Donovan and Weston, nine, make their living in acting, so the arts village is a good fit for them.
In Rosebud, Jeany has worked as an acting coach, drama, faith and art instructor and enjoys directing, choreography and performing.
David said Rosebud, which isn’t situated on a major highway, is far removed from other sources of arts and culture.
“For artists, it’s an incubator of personal development and arts training. For actors, that’s really potent,” he said. “All of that contributes to a rich life of arts and community. We feel we are where we belong.”
It was a world apart from Jeany’s home in Oregon.
“I wasn’t familiar with the landscape. It was hard to leave oceans, rain and tall trees,” she said.
“I’ve come to appreciate the big sky, weather and understand how Albertans love rain.”
David said technological advancements allow them to live here.
“We are in a position to build opportunities while enjoying the values of small town life,” said David.
The boys’ wide-ranging voiceover work in commercials and video games is accommodated from a home studio in a bedroom of their one-storey home, just a short walk from anywhere in the hamlet.
Donovan and Weston grow animated describing their work creating characters and scenes, saying they are saving their significant earnings for college.
For now, they support mission work in Africa and sponsor children though World Vision.
Across town, a diminutive Rachel Peacock softly plays a harp against the backdrop of the Rosebud River and a grain elevator.
She maintains a full schedule as an actor, musician, music director, sound designer and playwright.
She came here to complete a four year program at the Rosebud School of Arts in 2004, graduating in a class of seven.
She majored in dramatic arts and has since studied music with Dr. Janet Harbison at the Irish Harp Centre in Ireland.
“I kept living here. There was work here for me,” she said.
The laidback lifestyle, lower cost of living and access to the river in summer and cross-country skiing in the winter appealed to Peacock, who grew up near Rimbey, Alta.
She plays instruments ranging from harp, piccolo and recorder to piano and ukulele and performs in a Celtic trio, The Peacocks, with her sister and Rosebud resident, Talitha.
“I’m fortunate to make a living as a freelance artist,” she said, saying life in an arts village with likeminded individuals is beneficial.
“It’s all about learning more and honing skills,” she said.