The Stettler Area: What Is In A Name?

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CraigBaird

Louis Botha

While it is common knowledge that the name for Stettler came from Carl Stettler, but what about the other communities in the area? How did Fenn, Nevis, Red Willow or Halkirk get their names? One of the most fascinating parts of Canadian history is how each town earns the name it holds for the rest of its existence.
This week, we will dive into how the communities of the area earned their names.
Erskine
Erskine, like so many other communities in Alberta, earned its name from an individual. When it was founded in 1905, the community was named after Thomas Erskine, a British jurist. Erskine also served as the Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom between 1806 and 1807.
Botha
This community was named after a South African politician who became the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa; Louis Botha. Botha served as prime minister from 1910 to 1919. He was a hero of the Second Boer War and would fight to have South Africa part of the British Commonwealth. When the Cullinan Diamon, the largest gem-quality rough diamond, was discovered. He had it presented to King George VII.
Gadsby
Today, it is the smallest village in Alberta and when it was incorporated in 1909 it was named for Henry Franklin Gadsby, a reporter from Toronto.
Halkirk
Today, Halkirk is the home of Shane Doan and the largest wind farm in Alberta, but when it was first created in 1912, it was named for Halkrik, Scotland. It is very common to find communities named for another place over seas in Europe. Many settlers wanted to have that connection to home by naming their new home after the place they once lived.
Red Willow
It is believed that this hamlet was named by a settler around 1902 or 1903 for the red willows that grew in the area. An interesting fact about this community is that it was originally located six kilometres to the east before it was moved to line up with the Canadian National Railway.
Nevis
When the post office opened for this community in 1911, it was decided that hamlet would be named for the Nevis coal mine that was near the village.
Fenn
The Canadian National Railway established a station in Fenn in 1911 and the name for the post office, which opened in 1917, comes from three possible sources.
1.       It was named for Fen County in England. This could be the case as both share a marshy landscape.
2.       Named for a young boy who worked for the railroad crew by bringing them water. The naming was to say thank you for his hard work.
3.       It is named for a railway official.
Mirror
Most communities are named for communities elsewhere, or after a feature of the landscape, or a settler, or a prominent individual. That is not the case for Mirror. Unlike most communities, Mirror is named for a newspaper. Specifically, it is named for The Daily Mirror in England.
Suggestions for columns or questions? E-mail Craig at crwbaird@gmail.com. Listen to his podcast by searching for “Canadian History Ehx” on your podcast form. Find his show on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/CanadianHistoryEhx
Information for this column comes from Place Names of Alberta: Volume III Central Alberta and Wikipedia.
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