Community Builders

The Program

The Community Builders Committee aims to preserve and showcase our town's history by sharing the stories of those who were crucial in it's development through locally crafted monuments. We look forward to expanding the monument program and continuing to share insight on the significant "builders" of Stettler.

Do you know an individual, current or historical, the fits the title of 'Community Builder?' Fill out our Nomination Form at the bottom of this page!

Honourees

Below, you can find in-depth information on our current honourees.

Clark Burlingham

Before coming to Stettler in 1954, Clark Burlingham already was a well-known and successful member of the sports and recreation community.  He'd also had a distinguished career in the RCAF during the 40's.

Clark Burlingham was born in Battleford Saskatchewan in 1916.  His father served in WWI and served for many years as the court clerk in Battleford.  

Clark's sports career started in the early 1930's, starting with the Saskatoon Wesley's, and then became goalie for the Battleford Millers.  During his time in Battleford, Clark would graduate from the Battleford Collegiate Institute.  After the 1934/35 season, the Millers would sail to Japan to take part in a series of exhibition games in Japan.  They are noted as being the first Canadian Team to do so. They sailed out of Vancouver on March 2 1935 and arrived in Yokohama on March 15.

The team returned at the end of April and by mid-May, Burlingham was in Yorkton to play goal for the Yorkton Terriers.  In 1936, he moved to Sudbury Ontario where he continued to play hockey.

Burlingham would take a 3 month course as a radio technician a McMaster University in Ontario.  After enlisting in the RCAF in the early part of 1941, he was commissioned as a pilot officer.  During his time in the air force, he was stationed in England and would be a flight lieutenant, in command of 3 planes tasked with hunting and destroying German submarines.

Burlingham incurred an injury during his service, which would prevent him from continuing to reach his potential as an NHL goalie (as many people had expected of him). However, he would continue to be an active member of the sports community.

When the Burlinghams came to Eston, Saskatchewan in 1947, Clark worked for the Town as Recreation Director.  When he first arrived, the Eston Lions Club was working with Burlingham's office to create a Pee Wee hockey league.  The league would have 3 teams in the first season, and would cover the cost of Sox, jerseys and other necessary equipment; however, plates would be required to provide sticks and skates. In the next season, there would be 5 teams and by the start of hockey season 1950, the league would host 9 teams.

In a 1953 article in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, they referred to the recreation program in Eston as a 'model' for similar municipalities.  Burlingham was sure to note a large reason for the program's success was massive municipal and community support, with many clubs funding programs and teams, and the municipal government giving the hockey league free use of the local rink 3 nights a week.  The article stated that the town of 1,500 residents had 240 people enrolled in the program, with activities such as Ping Pong, tennis, badminton, hockey, and figure skating.  

Clark would also travel across the province upon request.  He would visit other communities to consult on how to develop their recreation programs.  Clark's wife Emig (also recorded as Emyg) also worked for the program, supervising the arts and crafts aspects.  Their sons Garth and David, and daughter Gayla were enrolled in many of the sports programs that the recreation board offered.

The Burlingham family came to Stettler in 1954 and Clark would hold the same position on the Stettler Council as he had in Eston.  Burlingham was always looking forward, motivated largely for his understanding that he had survived the war, while plenty of good men did not.  He came to Stettler with the intention of continuing to be the best Recreation Director he could be.  His mission  in Stettler was comprised of 3 main goals.  Enjoyment, participation and the continuous improvement of the first 2 aspects. Burlingham worked to improve community participation in sports and recreation programs.  

During his time as Recreation Director for the town, Burlingham began many practices and programs that were new for municipalities, even in the larger centres.  At one point, the Alberta Deputy Minister of Recreation and Health would send people to shadow Clark to see how he operated. He was also invited to speak on his programs and consult like he had in Saskatchewan. The Deputy Minister and other municipal officers would even try to entice Burlingham to higher profile positions and communities.  Despite their efforts, Burlingham enjoyed working and living in Stettler, and would politely rebuff their offers.  

Clark was known as an outgoing ambassador for the Town of Stettler. During his travels in both his capacity as Recreation Director or just his travels around the province, he was known for singing the praises for the people and opportunities of the district.  He spoke so highly of Stettler and area that people would often travel to the community to experience it for themselves.

Burlingham was a gifted leader and coach.  He was known for being a skilled communicator and was often able to form connections with the youth who were involved with the Recreation department's programs.  This ability to connect and motivate the community's youth was a vital tool for Burlingham.  It not only benefitted him in his role in the community, but it helped him connect with players and helped them to achieve their true potential.

After 10 years as Recreation Director, Burlingham resigned his post.  However, he was doing so to take charge of the bowling alley and recreation centre that was opening in the community.  In this capacity, he was able to continue enhancing recreation for the community.  In a newspaper article in 1966 about him, Burlingham was asked if there was anything wrong with the youth of the time, to which he answered confidently that he did not think so.  He said that there was a lot going on in the world and growing up was difficult.  He said the main cause of the perceived problems with the youth, was a breakdown in communication between them and their parents.  He explained that one of his goals at the Recreation Centre was to help families to bond while they visited the facility, and hopefully be able to communicate and work together.  He felt families that were able to communicate, bridged the generational gap.  He also believed that successful players were created by good facilities and resources, and not so much by 'winning at all cost' mantras many people believed were important.

During his stint at the recreation centre, Burlingham would be injured while working with the pin setting machine.  Clark's arm was badly injured and people remember him traveling to the hospital in the pickup truck of one of the patrons at the facility.  He would end up losing his arm but was noted as being back at work rather quickly and did not let his loss of limb, slow him down at all.

Clark was active in provincial programs as well as local sports.  In 1962, he was voted in as first Vice President of the Northern Alberta Baseball Association.  In 1957, he was appointed Head Coach of the Canadian Olympic Trainning Plan coaching clinic.

Locally he was appointed President of the Stettler Legion in 1961.  In 1963, he ran as the Liberal representative in the area.  Burlingham's 1,056 votes lost out to Norris' 3,,048.  He also ran unsuccessfully for town council in 1965.

During his time in Stettler, Burlingham coached teams to 3 consecutive provincial midget hockey championships, as well as similar feats in baseball.  He was also credited as helping several local hockey players reach the upper teir of their sports, as well other sports, including record-setting athletes in track and field.

Clark and Emig, who helped with local programs in Stettler, like she had in Eston, left for Saskatoon in 1977.  Although they were well loved by the community, and reciprocated the feeling, his 'always looking forward' views on life found him unable to pass up a.lucrative position as General Manager for A.A. Murphy and Sons.

In October 1987, Clark and Emig celebrated 50 years of marriage.

Clark passed away I  November of 1992 at the age of 76.  His mark on the communities he lived in, still clearly visible today.

 

Fred Colley

Fred Theodore Colley is noted as coming to Stettler on the first freight train into Stettler. Born in Iowa in 1880, Fred Colley apprenticed as a blacksmith at the age of 19. Eventually, he would manage a lumber yard in North Dakota. In 1905, he heard about the rail line extending from Lacombe to the west and was quick to cash in on new opportunities. He had a load of BC Lumber brought on on some of those first freight cars into the new townsite and opened a lumber yard on Main Street. His early operation was in partnership with investors in America but after a few years, he would buy out the American investors. He would continue running Acorn Lumber Yard with his brother, Otto Colley. Otto would eventually open a branch of the company in Castor and the Colley Brothers would expand their reputations in the rapidly growing district. 

In 1906, Fred briefly returned to the US where he was married. He came back to Stettler and would soon bring his new bride to reside on a property just north of town. Over the years, Fred Colley was active in a rather common practice of buying undeveloped homesteads and building them up with the basic buildings, then selling them to new arrivals in the area.

In addition to the many homes and businesses he was involved in constructing, he would also build Colley Hall. Colley Hall would often act as a community center for small events. He would also build the brick structure on Main Street that would be the Case I/H dealer for several years.

Colley's community involvement would also leave a lasting impression on the district. He was one of the early organizers of the original Agricultural Society in 1907, and would be a huge supporter of the Society and all ag-related groups. He was also a charter member of both the Board of Trade and the Stettler Rotary Club. Both of which he was an active member in, often representing Stettler at Provincial and National meetings.  

In his 1959 obituary, it was noted that the local baseball organization had benefited greatly from his efforts with the local leagues. He was also a well known owner of quality trotting and race horses.

The Colley's were active in church affairs as well. Fred's lumber yard was the source of materials for the Methodist church, which was the town's first church and sat where the Royal Bank of Canada now sits. Later when the United Church congregation was formed with the merging of Methodist and Presbyterian members in 1925, Fred Colley would sit on the board that was responsible with the election of the current United Church building. He would also lead the Masons from their space on Main Street, to the United Church in August 1927 to take part in placing items in the time capsule that was placed in the church cornerstone. 

Commonly referred to as Fritz, Colley's name would be used in naming a new school house south of Stettler. Fritzhill School was established in 1911. Whether the hill was named after Fritz Colley or if the hill was named after the school is unclear, but Colley would be closely associated with the school for many years. The school burned down in the 40's and was replaced after a few weeks with the Wellsburg school being moved onto the site. After Fritzhill School was closed, the Lone Tree school was added to the Wellsburg school to form the Fritzhill Community Centre.

Community Builders Nomination