Evelyn O’Hara gestures animatedly as she speaks about the importance of the Stettler history book project. She chaired a meeting at the old ATCO building on Monday

Marching time means recording history now vital

Preserving Stettler's history has become a project near and dear to the hearts of a group of individuals who have been plotting out a...

Preserving Stettler’s history has become a project near and dear to the hearts of a group of individuals who have been plotting out a plan to create a history book chronicling the life and times of the community since its foundation in 1905.

The Stettler History Book Committee met at the old ATCO building on Monday, Nov. 7, to discuss the next steps in the project, which has been in the works – officially – since September. The book, though, has been near and dear to the hearts of many in the past years, though, organizers said.

The people who attended the Monday meeting were all people who had been involved in various aspects since the committee’s foundation in September. A final call had been made in the Stettler Independent and online through Facebook to see if any others were interested in the project before the group decided whether or not to go ahead.

“If we mess this up, who will want to do it after?” Stan Eichhorn, a member of the committee, asked.

The passage of time is of great concern to the members of the committee, as it’s been 111 years since the founding of the community in 1905. All of the voices present in Stettler that day have fallen silent due to time, and those remaining who knew them are also becoming increasingly quiet.

Preserving that information now is vital, not just for the project, but for the community itself.

“We need to make sure that the information is saved,” fellow member Evelyn O’Hara said.

Past projects have ambitiously tried to accomplish this task, the committee noted, to various levels of success. However, the projects have never reached the book stage, and some of the information gathered by past community historians has been lost.

The committee acknowledged it, too, many did not make it to the book stage, so one of the key factors established at the meeting would be what would happen to the gathered information should the committee halt the project before completion.

“I don’t want to go to people and then have to tell them the information is worthless,” Eichhorn explained.

As a contingency plan, the committee intends to donate gathered information to the community museum, either the Stettler Town and Country Museum or the P&H Elevator Society, to ensure nothing is lost.

Every scanned photograph, every emailed story, every transcribed recording will be preserved, the committee vowed.

With Christmas just around the bend, members of the committee are hoping the holidays will provide ample opportunities for locals to exchange stories about the community’s past, which could then be passed on to the committee.

Each person who contributes, whether through old photographs or stories, is valuable, O’Hara said. People don’t have to join the committee to contribute, they just need to follow through with whatever commitment they promise, she said.

The intended history book will hopefully bring in many of the aspects demonstrated in the Botha Book of Memories, which O’Hara brought with her to the meeting.

“They did an excellent job,” she said of the book. “It has pictures on every page, sometimes more than one.”

The mix of images and text is vital, the committee noted, to make the book enjoyable. The photos don’t have to have major historical impact and can be as simple as a wedding photo at a Stettler location, fun snapshots of sports, or anything that reveals the spirit of the community.

The information in the book would range over a wide variety of topics, covering the political, business, and personal pasts of the community, heritage buildings and structures, grand events, sports, schools, service clubs and churches – just to name a few preliminary ideas.

The goal presently is to work on the first 75 years of the community’s life, from 1905 to 1980 – though information from any time period is welcome.

Contributions can be made via email, in writing and delivered to the P&H Elevator’s mail box, or through an appointment set up for an interview with members of the committee. The committee is also still seeking members, and meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month at the old ATCO building.

For more information, phone Stan Eichhorn at 403-742-4703.

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