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Organizers with Stettler Community Builders expect monuments to be installed in September

Initiative to honour Stettler citizens who were influential in the town’s history

Organizers with Stettler Community Builders expect to see monuments commemorating key folks from the community’s past installed next month.

Awhile back, Malcolm Fischer said he noticed that some of the local community builders of Stettler, such as Clark Burlingham and Fred Colley, were being forgotten.

To that end, Burlingham and Colley will be the first citizens to be commemorated on the specially-designed monuments complete with information and images.

“It was probably about five years I started thinking about it,” said Fischer, adding that the strategic planning started up two years ago.

Fischer said he had been thinking about the idea for awhile, and one day his friend Larry Dawson mentioned Burlingham and his significant contributions to the town.

“There seems to be an awakening or a realization that, yes, we have got so many people here as they also do everywhere else that need to be commemorated,” he said, reflecting on various conversations he’s had with folks in other communities as well.

He said he is also hoping this will encourage people – as it gains momentum and becomes more visible – to sit down with family and friends and put together write-ups, research and photos for consideration.

Take Fred Colley for example – as Fischer pointed out, there are a diminishing number of folks around town that remember him.

Thus the mission of Stettler Community Builders.

“Colley was a visionary – he built whole farmsteads, and would sell them as units,” he explained. “One story I heard was there was a young family who had gotten onto one of these farms, and it later burned. They had nothing. So he took a crew, went out there and re-built the house and the barn. How many people would do that? He also built the United Church.

“He built the Memorial Hall that Superfluity is in now,” he said. “And he built the first two hotels that were on the north end of Main Street.”

Meanwhile, the local committee has about 20 potential names on a list for monuments. And they are hoping to install two monuments each year going forward.

“It’s brought out that community feeling of ’lets look back and see from whence we came!’

Stettler Community Builders is run via the Town and has also been granted funding for the two monuments.

Initially, the plan was to put the monuments near places that were directly relevant to the lives of those being honoured. But committee later felt that the pathway right across from the police station will be the best.

As for Burlingham, 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.

He was also a tremendous advocate for Stettler.

And besides his range of contributions to the region, Colley was also the original president of the Ag Society, said Fischer. He also started up Acorn Lumber in the early 1900s.

Looking ahead, another potential candidate for a monument is Judge Billy Gray, who was also involved in several aspects of the community.

“We want to make sure that their legacies are not forgotten.”