The Stettler Community Builders committee has unveiled their next set of two plaques in Pioneer Park.
In September 2021, the first two plaques honouring Clark Burlingham and Fred Colley were unveiled in Pioneer Park across the street from the Stettler RCMP detachment. The new plaques, honouring two others, are further west down the path.
According to organizer Cheryl Barros, June 30 was chosen as a day to do the unveiling as it coincided with the day Stettler was founded so long ago.
The 2022 plaques honour the Poon family and Judge William Brigham Gray.
The Poon’s history goes back to the time the Canadian Pacific Railway was under construction and the federal government’s Chinese Eclusion Act afterwards. Jun Wah Poon stayed in the Botha area after the railway was done, dealing with the act; however, in time, around 1909, money was raised and Yick Fong “Sam” Poon and Jun Wah’s cousin, Yick Poon, were able to join him in Canada.
In 1928 Yick was able to rent a restaurant on Main Street in Stettler, the Club Cafe, which continues to this day. Yick’s son, Thing Gue “Harry” Poon was able to join his father in Stettler, where he in turn met future wife, Star. Harry and Star became significant members of the Stettler recreation commission and Harry was elected to town council in 1954 while continuing to run the cafe. Harry remained in Stettler until his death in 1984.
Judge William Brigham Gray came to the Stettler area in 1906 after serving in the navy, militia, and working as rancher, post-master, and Justice of the Peace. When he arrived in Stettler he became very active in the town government, serving as Commissioner for Taking Affidavits, a Dominion Land Agent, a Notary Public, a World War One recruiter, town clerk, and Police Magistrate before getting into insurance and real estate.
Gray also became a collector of Victorian era objects, many of which are housed in the Provincial Archives. Gray was part of the Stettler community until his death in 1947.
“Stettler is about people, and these people are disappearing into the mists of time,” said Mayor Sean Nolls during his brief remarks at the unveiling ceremony.
The Stettler Community Builders committee was formed to help keep those who built the community keep from being forgotten.
Two plaques are planned by the committee each year, each costing just under $1,300 coming from the Town of Stettler’s Culture accounts.