Stirling is a village in Warner County, Alberta, Canada. The population was 921 at the 2006 Census. The village is located on Highway 4 31 km (19 mi) southeast of Lethbridge and 72 km (45 mi) northwest of the United States-Canada border.
Stirling was founded on May 5 1899 by Theodore Brandley. The town was one of two communities that owed its existence to a partnership between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Charles A. Magrath of the North Western Coal and Navigation Company, and is one of only three communities designated as a National Historic Site of Canada. Stirling was named after John A. Stirling, Managing Director of The Trusts, Executors and Securities Corporation of London, which owned shares in the Alberta Coal and Railway Company.
After arriving at the Stirling siding, Theodore Brandley quickly started planning the lay-out of the town. The town site was made up of one square mile (640 acres), then divided into lots of 10 acres; each with a surveyed road around the entire area with a lane running north and south, dividing it into two parcels. The parcels were then again divided, east and west, making four lots, each 2.5 acres, giving the residents room to build homes, barns and shelters for animals, with large gardens. Theodore planned the town site after the Plat of Zion, which Stirling still follows today, and is recognized as the most well-preserved, Canadian example of the Plat of Zion. For this reason, Stirling is known as Stirling Agricultural Village
In the 1890s the Alberta Rail and Irrigation laid a narrow gauge line that ran diagonally from Lethbridge to Stirling and then to Coutts. In 1912 the Canadian Pacific Railway bought the rail line and needed extra space for a junction point for the line between Raymond and Foremost. This junction was named New Stirling, creating a new town latter to be named Maybutt. Due to confusion between the two post offices in Old Stirling and New Stirling, the name was changed to Maybutt. Mr. Fisher who was the original owner and planer of the town site, decided to rename the town after his wife, May Butt.
Since the Dust Bowl era, Maybutt has slowly died off making it a ghost town with few buildings remaining.
Stirling is subject to chinooks, which bring temperatures in mid-winter above 10 °C (50 °F). Chinooks bring more than 200 days of wind a year.
Historically, Stirling's economy has relied mainly on agriculture as a main industry. Stirling's location and rich history makes tourism another main industry. Stirling has a variety of businesses, such as a convenience store, creamery, large concrete terminal grain elevator, a wooden crib grain elevator now used as a hemp plant, a truck and tractor dealer, a pool, a community-owned campground, and a community park known as Centennial Park.
In 2006 Stirling had a population of 921 living in 299 dwellings, a 5.0% increase from 2001. The village has a land area of and a population density of . The 2008 municipal census reported Stirling has grown to 1041 from 951 in the 2007 municipal census.
The village is governed by a village council composed of a mayor, four councillors and a village manager. Municipal elections are held every three years.
The village is connected to two highways: Highway 4, which heads south to Interstate 15 and north to Lethbridge, and the historic Red Coat Trail also known as Highway 61, which heads east to Foremost and then ends in Manyberries.
Stirling Emergency Services are provided by the Raymond and District hospital and police station located in Raymond, as well as the village's own fire station, that has served the Stirling and area since 1957.
Stirling's recreational facilities include ball parks, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a community centre, a picnic area, playgrounds, rodeo grounds, fish pound, and library. The Milk River Ridge Reservoir south of Stirling supports water recreation in the summer months, and Stirling Lake, also known as Michelsen Marsh, north of Stirling supports bird watchers year-round.
After Stirling's founding on May 5 1899, the 24th of July, known as "Pioneer Day", now called Stirling Settler Days, was celebrated to mark the Mormon pioneers' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley.Michelsen Farmstead: The Michelsen Farmstead is a typical farmstead of the 1800s era, located in Stirling. It was declared a Provincial Historic Site of Alberta in 2001, and has been restored back to its original 19th century Victorian style. Galt Historic Railway Park:The Galt Historic Railway Park has displays of life and travel in the 1880s in the restored 1890 North West Territories International Train Station from Coutts, Alberta, Canada and Sweetgrass, Montana, USA. The station was moved to the current location just outside Stirling, in 2000.William T. Ogden House: The William T. Ogden House is a Neo-Classical style house that is declared as a Provincial historic Site of Alberta located in Stirling. Every year around Halloween the owners of the home decorate the house as a live haunted house, making it the largest haunted house in Southern Alberta.
Lost Frontier Mini-Railway: The Lost Frontier Mini-Railway is a small train park open by booking from May to October and is a very popular local attraction. Located on the grounds of the William T. Ogden Home, the park also has a petting zoo.
The high school girls basketball team won the 1A girls basketball provincial championships in 1997–1999. They placed in three other provincial championships between 1996 and 2006. The Lakettes won or placed second for 6 straight years between 1996–2003.
The high school boys basketball team won the 1A boys basketball provincial championships in 2001, 2003 and 2006. They placed second in three other provincial championships between 1996 and 2006. The Lakers have played in 6 of the last 10 championships.
In 2006 the final game was a decisive 98-68 victory over the third-ranked Youngstown Falcons. Besides the provincial title, the Stirling Lakers recorded a season of 30 wins, 9 losses, and 3 other tournament champion titles, including the 1A South Zone Title, the Picture Butte Sugar King Invitational, and the Mccoy Invitational.
The Stirling Lakers followed up their 2006 season with another provincial title in 2007. The Lakers were victorious in the championship game over their rivals from Foremost. On their way to provincials, the Lakers were also crowned South Zone champions.
In 2008 Stirling hosted provincials and ended up winning their third provincial title in a row.
Stirling has many different types of news papers such as Westwind Weekly, Lethbridge Herald, and Prairie Post. At one time, Stirling had a newspaper of its own called the Stirling Star. In the 1980s Stirling also hosted the cast of a film called "Pure Escape" staring James Garner.