For an engaging and thoroughly informative exploration of Stettler and the surrounding region’s past, check out the Stettler Town & Country Museum located at 6502 – 44th Ave.
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May through to September, the Museum features several buildings from Stettler’s past from the 1903 Content School, the 1907 Courthouse and the 1908 Lakeview Church to a 1910 farmhouse and the 1911 Train Station and Caboose.
There are also a slate of activities planned through the year, including a pancake breakfast on June 1st, Canada Day celebrations on July 1st, a ‘Night of Terror at the Booseum’ in October and December’s Light the Night.
“In 1972, when they used to have the fair in town, people wanted to see some accumulation of artifacts,” said Karen Wahlund, the Museum’s manager. A display was set up, and there was considerable interest right off the top.
“They started going to the Town and the County, and between the two, got this property which is 10 acres,” she said. “They started building and bringing in buildings as well.”
Of the buildings on site, 12 are historic while others are replicas.
In the large old courthouse building, there are displays about both World Wars, the Korean War, and the local hospital history.
“The courtroom is also still intact, and there we have our RCMP display,” she said. William Gray, a judge in Stettler back in the early days, also traveled extensively and some of the artifacts he collected on those journeys are on display as well.
Visitors can also check out the courtroom where convicted murderer Robert Raymond Cook’s initial hearings were held.
Cook, convicted of killing his entire family, was the last man hung in Alberta back in 1960. There is a display in the room featuring some photos relating to the case.
Of course, that’s only one portion of the town’s past that is included amongst many stories, artifacts, displays and photos that reflect the town’s history and rich legacy.
And making it all that much more compelling is that much of what is featured throughout the site is uniquely accessible. Visitors feel like they are ‘part of the story’.
For Wahlund, it’s certainly a fitting line of work.
Born and raised in Stettler, she pointed out how her grandfather was one of the early homesteaders in the community back in the early 1900s. Stettler was incorporated as at town in 1905.
“A lot of our displays are open – they aren’t behind glass. And some of it is hands-on; you can actually feel what something is to an extent,” added Wahlund.
“We get a lot of people who come here for the first time, and it doesn’t matter what their age is, they are coming back and saying it’s the best museum they’ve been to, and they’ve nicknamed it ‘the hidden jewel’.”
Check out www.stettlermuseum.com.