Stettler officially received news by wire that it had become a town on the afternoon of Friday, November 23rd, 1906.
Opinions of Stettler, 1910
"Stettler is one of the busiest Towns in Alberta" --Edmonton Bulletin
"In four years Stettler has grown from the bald prairie to a town of over 2,000 inhabitants and over one hundred business houses." -- "Canada" London, England
"He had found Stettler the busy town. It has always been. It was depending not altogether on railways but on the rich farming districts surrounding it." --The Hon. C.R. Mitchell, Attorney-General for Alberta
"The town of Stettler was always alive to its possibilities." --Calgary Herald
The Town of Stettler was named after Carl Stettler, a native of Switzerland who came to Alberta in 1903 and filed on a homestead 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) east of the present site of Stettler. His homestead was the centre of a Swiss-Germany colony that set up a hamlet with a post office on his land in 1905. The post office was named "Blumenau" and Carl Stettler was the first postmaster.
In the fall of 1905 the townsite, which later became Stettler, was put on the market because the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) had just reached this site. The Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) reached Stettler in 1911.
In the meantime, the hamlet of Blumenau had acquired a lumberyard, two general stores, a tavern, a blacksmith shop, bakery and feed store. Local business owners, recognizing the advantage of rail transportation, moved the hamlet of Blumenau, lock, stock and barrel, to the present site of Stettler. Since Carl Stettler was the first postmaster, the town was named in honour of its most active citizen.
In the spring of 1906, Carl Stettler built the National Hotel on the site of the present Stettler Hotel. This hotel burned down in 1908 and he started to build another, the National Hotel, on the same site in 1909. The hotel was only partly built when he sold his interest to R.L. Shaw who completed the hotel (pictured below). In 1942 The National hotel burned down and was replaced by the Stettler Hotel in 1948. Mr. Wilson Pyper built the first hotel on Railway Avenue, the Alberta Hotel.
The fire of 1908 destroyed approximately 20+ businesses in the downtown core. In a true sign of perseverance, Downtown Stettler was rebuilt to almost twice its original size within one year.
Stettler was established as a village on June 30, 1906 and incorporated as a town on November 23, 1906. The the first school building was constructed in 1907, which later became the courthouse (pictured below is the laying of the cornerstone).
As the first school in Stettler transitioned to the Courthouse, a three-story stone school was constructed in 1910 (pictured below). The school was in service until the late 1960's.
The first bank, The Merchant's Bank, was established in a tent in 1905. The first hospital was a private 8-bed hospital initially set up in a rented building by Dr. Donovan in 1909. In 1912 a 10-bed hospital was operated by Dr. Franchum. Next, a 12-bed hospital was opened by Dr. Creighton in 1914 and in 1915, a 6-bed nursing home was operated by Mrs. Mills.
The first lawyer to establish a practice in Stettler was H.T. Harding who later went into partnership with the late Judge A. A. McGillivray, formerly of Ponoka.
In 1913, the town installed a steam-electric plant with a capacity of 150 kilowatts, later increased to 200 kilowatts in 1923. This plant supplied light and power until the Canadian Utilities power line entered the town in 1928.
Of Stettler's beginnings, author/historian Edith Clark wrote. "Whatever lies ahead, this town holds an unequalled position as having the most astonishing growth of any settlement in the history of Alberta."
Another notable landmark, the Stettler Cenotaph, was officially unveiled by Governor-General Lord Byng in 1925 (pictured below). Originally located on the southern end of Main Street, it was eventually moved to the courthouse lot on the east side of town, and finally moved to it's current home at Sharpe Memorial Park. The land for the park was originally donated by Mr. Whip Whilbro Sharpe (a former mayor of Stettler) after losing both of his sons in WWll.
The Underwood Brothers
In 1907, just four years after the Wright brothers made their historic flight, the Underwood brothers from Stettler, Alberta designed an experimental machine to take to the skies that was extremely popular with both local residents and visitors. This machine didn't have an engine, and flew only when attached to a tether on the ground, on "kite" flights. Nevertheless, the Underwoods' efforts were enough to earn them a place in aviation history. Pictured above is a replica of their creation.
William Brighton Gray
A notable citizen was the late William Brighton Gray, a pioneer, cowboy and rancher. Gray was known for his loyalty and generosity, his kind and keen sense of humour, and his unflinching devotion to duty and principle. William Gray was employed by the Bank of England for six years, then entered the British Navy for two years, followed by four years of foreign travel which brought him to western Canada in 1882. For a number of years he ranched near Buffalo Lake. In 1906 he was appointed Dominion Land Agent with headquarters at Stettler. During his lifetime William Gray held many different positions including agent for the Hudson's Bay Company and Canadian Pacific Lands, Registrar of Vital Statistics for the Stettler district, Official Auditor and Issuer of Marriage Licences, Town Clerk when the town was first incorporated and Justice of the Peace from the beginning of civil government in Stettler. In 1946 he sold his collection of rare coins, Indian costumes, guns and other artifacts to the Alberta government. He was one of the outstanding builders of Stettler and a father to the town. Aside from the distinction of being the oldest Justice of the Peace in the town, Gray was honoured with various offices and was prominent in the business and civic life of the community.
Downtown Historical Walking Tour
Pick up the brochure at the Town Office or the Parks and Leisure Services Office or download it here and enjoy the walk!
In conjunction with the Downtown Historical Walking Tour the Stettler Beautification Committee would like to identify older residential homes. The goal is to identify community heritage homes with a bronze plaque complete with a picture of the original home and a brief write-up about the structure. The cost to join is $50 - this is one-half the cost of the plaque, mounting it and making the brochure.
If you would like your home included in the brochure, please contact the Town Office at 403-742-8305.