In April of 1943, the population of Stettler was noted in an article in the Calgary Herald as being roughly around the 1,200 mark.
It also refers to Stettler as Canada’s most ‘war-minded’ community. It was a title Stettler had no doubt earned and would continue to maintain for the duration of the war effort.
In the days that followed the Dieppe raid on Aug. 29th, 1942, with people from Stettler making up a large part of the Calgary Tank Regiment’s ‘B’ squadron, sadness quickly started coming over the telegram wires.
It was soon discovered that 24 servicemen from the community were deemed prisoners of war.
This news seemed to unite the people of the small farming community even more, and it seemed to push everyone to do more than the noted above and beyond they were already becoming famous for.
An example of the town’s dedicated efforts included a Mrs. Slena Gilbert, who had four of her boys away from home as part of the war effort.
Her one son Raymond was listed as one of the 24 from the area reported as a POW. Mrs. Gilbert was noted as being a member of five different war-aid organizations in the area.
When asked how she managed so many positions on top of taking care of her own home, she simply stated what was a common mantra at the time. “War Work Comes First.”
Another way Stettler excelled at supporting the war efforts, despite the already limited resources and over-worked tasks many of the citizens faced at the time, was Victory Loans.
Soon after Dieppe, a third round of Victory Loans were issued, and Stettler did not shy away from raising funds. They had already raised $152,000 in the first round and another $162,000 with the second round.
When the third round of loans came out with a quota of $99,000, the town raised $197,000 on the first day.
This made Stettler the first center in Canada to exceed its set quota.
In the days that followed the pot quickly grew and the Victory Loan Committee, chaired by Mayor Tom Kirby, had raised $205,400.
Mayor Kirby was obviously proud of the town and district’s success, and credited a great deal of the drive’s large numbers to machinery shop owner and genial farmer Mr. John Adams, who basically closed his shop to focus on raising needed war revenue.
Keep in mind that not only was the War Loans drive successful, but Dr. Lloyd Wright (dentist) was in charge of fundraising efforts for the Red Cross as well, and they quickly exceeded their set quota by 50 per cent.
Dr. Wright gave an example in the Herald article about the kind of unquestioned support his group came upon at the time by telling the story of one donation that stuck out in his mind.
A local farmer who was far from well-off came to him personally offering a $130 donation.
He said the donation was the estimated cost for the Red Cross to take care of each prisoner of war.
He explained that although the donation was not an easy sum for him to part with, he felt it was the right thing to do, noting his son was one of the 24.