If all goes according to plan, organizers with Stettler Community Builders could see their first monument to a community pioneer be in place by summer.
Awhile back, Malcolm Fischer said he noticed that some of the local community builders of Stettler were being forgotten. So Fischer, who also serves on Town council, helped spearhead a committee to oversee the project.
Fischer said he had been thinking about the idea for awhile, and one day his friend Larry Dawson mentioned the late Clark Burlingham and his very significant contributions to the town.
Burlingham would be the first to be commemorated on a specially-designed monument this summer, as some kind of recognition for him seemed the natural place to start for the Stettler Community Builders project.
So far, Fischer said he’s been really impressed by the support shown for the project across the community, including from the Stettler Board of Trade and Town council – both of which have heard presentations in the past couple of weeks.
The initiative now goes to the Town’s Committee of the Whole for further discussion in April, and a decision about any funding for the project will be ultimately decided upon from there.
Meanwhile, moving forward, Stettler Community Builders will be run as a sub-committee under the Board of Trade as well.
In the meantime, Fischer said Wayne Tebbe was the one who came up with the prototype for the actual monuments. “He and Dave worked on it together.”
Initially, the plan was to put them near places that were directly relevant to the lives of those being honoured.
“We decided at our last meeting to put them along our pathways,” he said. “Not only is that a better alternative in terms of people being able to stop and read them, it’s also a less expensive option as there would be no altering of sidewalks on town streets, etc.”
Besides Fischer, the committee includes Leann Graham from the Town office; Stacey Benjamin and Donna Morris of the Stettler Board of Trade and local resident Carson Ellis, who shares a fascination with local history as well.
Pictures and the basics of the story will be on the actual monuments.
To date, Fischer said the committee has already come up with several names, and down the road, there will be a committee of adjudicators and people will be able to submit names along with written pieces and pictures.
As for Burlingham, Fischer said he was a great motivator during his time in Stettler.
He has also been described as one of the first of his kind in Alberta and in Canada (as a recreation director), and a pioneer in so many ways.
“Not only was he employed by the Town, but we think he was the first municipally-hired recreation director in Canada,” said Fischer, adding that provincial government representatives used to be sent from Edmonton to Stettler to shadow the Town’s recreation program.
He was also a tremendous advocate for Stettler.
“I played on a couple of his ball teams, and if you went into Vauxhall, Alberta – for example – when you left, everybody knew about Stettler. He was a huge Stettler promoter,” he said.
“He’s one of those guys whose eyes were on fire all of the time,” he added. “He had a big voice and a big personality.
“He was enthusiastic every single time I saw him – a guy you couldn’t help but like. Very positive and very upbeat.
“And clearly, he loved Stettler.”
Other folks under consideration for a monument include Fred Colley.
“He was the original president of the Ag Society,” said Fischer. Also, back in the early 1900s, Colley started Acorn Lumber. “He built two hotels, numerous residences, and Memorial Hall (where Superfluity now stands.)”
It’s people like Colley, who made a profound mark on the community but may not be well-known, that Stettler Community Builders seeks to honour.
Another potential candidate is Judge Billy Gray, who was also involved in several aspects of the community. Yick and Harry Poon are also being considered for a Stettler Community Builders monument.
“The ground these people covered is just staggering.”