By Carson Ellis For the Independent
When you visit our rather attractive main street, you may find yourself at a small pavement park with several facades down one side of the end building. It’s a creative tribute to the history of our town and is rather Stettler unique. One particular façade has an animated sign of a simple figure swinging a hammer. This LED remake of a neon original represents Jimmy’s Hardware. A store anyone who ever stepped foot inside of it, fondly remembers.
Jimmy’s Hardware was started by Jimmy Wilson who came to Stettler at the age of 10 in 1910. Wilson left school in 1917 and started to work at the local branch of the Royal Bank, which was located in the old National Hotel at the time. However, banking wasn’t something Jimmy took to very well so after a brief stint there, followed by a short time at the John Deere dealer, Jimmy started working for Jenkins’ Groceteria in 1929. During the depression Mister. Wilson, like many people at that time, worked odd jobs which included working for the egg pool, and creamery. In 1940, Mister Ed Burrows sold Burrows Hardware to Chris Jensen and Tom Kirby. Jimmy would work for these gentlemen as manager until leaving in 1947 to open up what would eventually become a local landmark.
Although most hardware stores at the time sold a few appliances as well, Jimmy’s Hardware stuck pretty much to paints, tools, and the like. His store was known for having a very extensive stock, and Wilson was known for his excellent personal service.
Jimmy was the owner/operator of Jimmy’s Hardware until 1975 when he would sell his business located on the east side of Main Street, at the north end, roughly between the former home of Pfieffer’s House of Music, and the Brick. E. Lagore of Stettler and L. Dell of Calgary were the new owners effectively ending a 40-year career in hardware.
Wilson was also an active member of the community outside of the hardware business. He played in the Elks’ band, which won many honours over the years under bandmaster Tom Fishwick. He was also a drummer with the Calgary Tank Regiment and enjoyed a 15-year stint as a drummer in the Stettler Town Band. He was also noted as a charter member of the Stettler Hotel coffee club, which met frequently in the former coffee shop of the Stettler Hotel.