I think a big thank you is in order for Mr. John Wilfort, of Wilfort Construction.
Although I have no doubt that the Wilforts were generous people to all causes in the district, my reasoning in this case, is Mr. Wilfort’s donation of $5,000 in 1981 to the development of the Wilfort Toboggan Hill in West Stettler Park.
I cannot tell you how many times I ran up that hill and sped down it again. Although, the getting up was rather difficult in 1980s snow pants, coat, and whatever else I was wrapped in, the ride down was never disappointing.
Although painful if you went down the east face in the early years of the hill. Those of you who know why, know why.
Wilfort Toboggan Hill was just one aspect in the creation of West Stettler Park. The park started as a preventative measure to reduce/eliminate the rather regular flooding of Red Willow Creek.
The Town worked with the province’s environmental department, on the excavation of fishponds which were designed to hold runoff water, and prevent the Red Willow Creek which runs through the park from damaging homes and businesses.
The project also worked to deepen and widen the channel the creek runs through.
Although I’m not sure where in the early planning stages of the project it was to collect the run off, it was decided to make it a park, and it quickly became a community-focused operation. However, the whole project becoming a park, all hinged on one tiny detail.
The County of Stettler owned a large percentage of land that was needed for the 80-acre park. This could have had a major impact on the size and scope of the park’s development, had it not been for the C ounty agreeing to donate the land for recreational use.
Town Administrator (at the time) Mr. Warren Dunford explained that although the project had received a provincial grant of $600,000 as well as money from the Town to the tune of $500,000, it did not take long to consume a large portion of those funds.
Although the West Stettler Park project was initially a Town and Province undertaking, community groups quickly threw their hats into development of the area.
The Kinsmen Club of Stettler took on landscaping around the fishponds. The Kinsmen (and I’m sure Kinettes, but I’d have to check with those ladies) also built the picnic shelter in the park which used to have brick walls, but now appears to be all open.
Additionally, The Kinsmen erected the bridge that crossed the creek. This actually makes a lot of sense to me now, because as a kid whose dad was a Kinsman, family events were either in the basement of the Club Café where the club used to meet or out at West Stettler Park.
The Rotary Club of Stettler also pitched in and did much of the design work for the ball diamonds that they planned to begin construction of in 1982.
Although not a part of the main park, the Lions Club began development of a 55-stall campground which would include 48 full power and water hookup sites.
The campground sat across the roadway from the main park.
The Lions Campground also planned for a washroom shack for the convenience of the campers at their facility. This campsite, of course, still exists even though the Town is without a Lions Club, and I believe it is run by the town. However, it would be rather unfair not to credit the former Lions for their major contribution to that part of town.
Although John Wilfort’s toboggan hill was noted as being hydroseeded in September of ‘81, and would most certainly be used that winter, the official opening of West Stettler Park, didn’t happen until June of 1986.