By Carson Ellis For the Independent
This is probably one of my earliest pictures of Stettler. Taken from the Stettler Independent’s special issue for Stettler’s 75th Anniversary. I have no idea where I got the issue from, but I’m very glad I have it. This picture alone is a great one, and worth whatever this issue would have cost.
Although my information is a bit patchy, I have been able to put together a little bit of that block.
First of all, in most of the main street photos, there’s a train station at the end of the street, however, this picture was most likely taken when they were using a boxcar as the station, which was a common practice until a formal station could be built. I believe the station agent at the time was Mr. A.G Fox.
On the east side, you can see the Dominion Hotel owned by Mr. Wilson Pyper. Although a large hotel, it was a simple wooden building that was still rather unfinished. To the west (and out of the photo) would have been the smaller wooden hotel known as the Alberta Hotel, also owned by Mr. Pyper. Next to it, was the original Royal Hotel. Coming south would have been a land office run by R.M Mercer, followed by George Bentley’s lumber yard. You can then see the Stettler Hotel under construction. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the Merchants Bank pretty much sat in the middle of what would essentially be Alberta Avenue. When the new National was built after the 1908 fire, the Merchants bank operated out of the hotel’s main floor. It later became the Royal Bank, before moving across the street onto the corner.
I’ve been unable to make out what is written on the first sign on the west side of the street. However, you can clearly see McGillivray’s furniture store. N.B. McGillivray was noted as operating here early on. I don’t have a timeline on when he moved from this location, to his store further south on main street, where he operated for many years.
In the center roughly where main street intersects with Alberta Avenue is the town’s water pump. This was later moved as the town grew. Its location at that end of the street was most likely because the north end was the location of most of the town’s early hotels. Since it was long before running water, staff often carried buckets of water from the pump on the street to the rooms of their guests, and the kitchens of the hotels. It was probably a horrible job year-round since the mud on main street was often very deep, and in the winter snow and ice would build up around the pump. Unsurprisingly, hotels were the driving force for the town to install water lines as Stettler grew.
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