Along Stettler’s skyline is the brick-red grain elevator, a bold parallel to the city’s resilience as well as its past.
It would have been lost, of course, but it hasn’t because of the foresight of a few Stettler residents who formed the Stettler P&H Elevator Preservation Society and have continued to uphold the town’s waning structure.
Now Stan Eichhorn, president of the Stettler P&H Elevator Preservation Society, along with friend Jack Schulze, both Stettler old timers want to take on an even bigger initiative, that of documenting and recording the communities and industries of Stettler prior to the 1900s up until now in a history book of the town.
“We have been thinking of it for about seven years,” said Eichhorn. “When Jack did the Shur-Gain metal sign and it was put up, we sat and pondered and why there has been no history book on Stettler, like the other towns.”
Eichhorn said the urgency has increased since then for a number of reasons.
“Although we have talked about it on occasion and every now and then, we’ve never really made a move, but since we have lost a few critical people like Rex Shuckburgh, Wilda Gibbons, Gertie Savage, Everett Bullington, we feel we are losing history of the town and the area,” explained Eichhorn. “So we would like to know if there is enough interest, you know when those people passed away a lot of history disappeared and it is sad.”
Jack Schulze said “We would like to work on a history book on Stettler and community which would basically showcase the town’s culture and heritage, and development through the years like the evolution of businesses and establishments.”
According to Schulze, the endeavour is to get maiden names and married names as part of the index.
“When we tried to trace our family down in the States, it was very difficult to find out our mother’s side of the family using her maiden name and that’s one of the prime examples why it would be a good idea to have an index of maiden names and family names both,” added Schulze. “Newer generations are moving out, settling elsewhere, so it’s important that they know their roots and where they came from and this history book would help people remember and give them a basis of the town as it was.”
Both Eichhorn and Schulze believe its important to get the history down before its lost. “By knowing the past, we can shape the future,” said Eichhorn. “To me, this town is basically founded on agriculture, and originally the main income sources were creamery, stockyards, egg grading stations and grain.”
But, Eichhorn said that most of them are all gone now except for the grain elevator.
“It’s the only one left out of these things, can you imagine,” continued Eichhorn. “I think although oil came, agriculture is still important to the town’s roots and who the people in Stettler are.”
Recalling some of the structures and establishments that have disappeared over time, Eichhorn said, “Just behind the Stop’n Go right by the playground, there was a flour mill and Stettler had its own brand of cigar, the Stettler Cigar Manufacturing Co. were makers of ‘Van-Loo’, which later went big and was manufactured on large-scale in Vancouver.”
The history book would focus on family histories of the area and so forth, about why did people come here and what was their drive, said Eicchorn.
Schulze said that he had attended a graveside service in Botha in the recent past and one of the family members wanted to know some family details.
“All I had to do was look up the Botha book and the information was there,” said Schulze. “They had left the town long time back but it was their wish to be buried in the town of Botha, so the history book is actually a record and it’s timeless.”
Eichhorn remembered some of the old memories from the past, how the old one-room schools were these community hubs, and everything that went on in the community, whether it was Christmas concerts, Sunday morning church services or box socials.
With the support of Stettler P&H Elevator Preservation Society, Eichhorn and Shulze would like to hold a meeting on Tuesday evening, May 24 at 7.30 p.m. at the P&H Elevator to discuss and see what the interest in the community is.