With no social media presence, the Bruce Hotel generates visitors from word of mouth. Diners visit, and then rave about the experience to friends and family. There are no online bookings, no emails—classic eatery etiquette of phoning to make a reservation.
115 km’s East of Edmonton in Beaver County is the hamlet of Bruce. Bruce was settled in the early 1900’s; in 1956 Bruce boasted a population of 175 people. Today, that number stands at 60. Despite a decreasing population, Bruce has found its way back to the minds of Albertans—through the allure of the hotel steakhouse. This tiny Hotel has made its way across the web, with bloggers from around Canada sharing their experiences.
Today, Bruce has two businesses remaining in the community. Bruce Fuel and the Bruce Hotel. The Bruce hotel was originally built in 1911, after a fire it was rebuilt in 1930. The hotel had a significant addition made to it in 1959 and today it hosts upward to 200 people on the Friday or Saturday steak nights. Diners travel just to have a meal—scouring reviews on the internet, the food is apparently that good. The Bruce Hotel’s sell-out, buffet-style dinners are said to be ‘unforgettable’.
Debbie Boyd and Karl Pickup purchased the hotel in 1998 and started featuring a steak night a couple of weeks after the purchase. They are only the seventh owners since 1911, shares Boyd.
Boyd is proud of the hotels fame, ‘Bruce Hotel is widely known as a steak house and continues to live up to its reputation. The hotel has been featured in many newspapers, magazines and on television as well. The best dish according to customers is the steak, it is triple A, custom cut the day of supper. There are at least 10 hand made salads, dill and cream potatoes, vegetables, roasted mushrooms, baked beans, garlic bread, pickles, cookies, squares, fresh fruit and cakes’.
During service weekends, Boyd and Pickup feed about 200 people per night— with Boyd cooking all the steaks herself on her dual grill. During the rest of the week, they do prep work for the buffet of countless salads and desserts. It’s not a particularly profitable enterprise, but for Boyd and Pickup, the Bruce Hotel isn’t about money — it’s about love.
Bruce is home to one of the largest Rodeos in Canada. Starting in 1914, the Bruce Stampede has been an annual affair. The last weekend of July visitors flock to the Hamlet for; concerts, chuckwagons, beer gardens, dancing and more. A great time to take advantage of free camping and get a feel for the small town.