Early Trails Through The Stettler Area

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Mills Stopping House in 1907
As the new pioneers came to the Stettler area, they began to follow routes set forth by those who came before. These trails served as the early highways for settlers, both when they arrived and as they traveled throughout the area in their day-to-day lives.
One of the main trails that came through the area ran from Lacombe to south of Stettler. This trail had several important stopping houses for settlers, including one run by Carl Stettler himself. Another of the trails ran towards Mayvrille. The stopping houses along this route included Mill’s Stopping House, the May Park School, and Glasier Stopping House. In addition, there was Omega School, Higgin’s Store and the post office at Dora.
These stopping houses were very important for travelers as they would allow those who passed through to feed and water their livestock, get supplies, and repair any equipment that may have broken along the harsh and bumpy trails. The stopping houses would feed those who came through, often charging about 25 cents per plate, or sometimes nothing at all. If there was room, travelers could sleep on a bed at the stopping house, or in the barn if they preferred. Naturally, things like lice and bed bugs were a very big problem at this point.
In 1907, as the number of people in the area began to rise, a stage coach was operated that ran from Stettler to Ingleton. It would leave from Stettler at 8 a.m. on Thursdays and return from Ingleton the following day at 9 a.m.
Over the next few years, the population of the area continued to increase and this created a problem as homesteaders began to put up fences. These fences often blocked trails that were unofficial highways for the residents.
This necessitated the need to create more official roads, a process that began to happen more and more once the province of Alberta was formed and official surveys could be done.
Today, we take highways for granted, but many years ago they were rough tracks through fields, with civilization being nothing more than a brief stopping house along the way.
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 Botha Memories.
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