Stanley Campbell built time defying icons | DrumhellerMail
Last updateTue, 28 May 2024 4pm

Stanley Campbell built time defying icons


    Numerous buildings throughout the valley have stood the test of time, and many of those still standing were built by Stanley Campbell.

    Starting in the early 1930’s, Campbell and his construction company of about 30 men built buildings such as the Waldorf Hotel, the Atlas Coal Mine Tipple, the Cambria Hotel, the Catholic Church, the Longbranch Saloon, residences and many more buildings which cease to exist.
    He was a skilled tipple worker, building structures for the Red Deer Valley Mine, the Brilliant Mine, the Cambria Mine, and at the Atlas.
    “There weren’t that many people in construction at that time,” explains daughter Viola Campbell (Lowen), who was only 13 when Stanley died, on how one crew received so much work in the valley. “At that time, you didn’t need an education, you learned by working.”
    Stanley Campbell at one time employed 30 men, making him an important community businessman at the time. He was also a community builder in the literal sense as reminders of his hard work still stand tall in our community.
    Long time valley resident Dorothy Bergos recalls the history of Campbell’s family.
    As we approach the anniversary of coal mining in the Drumheller Valley and look to celebrate the heritage of that industry, the name Campbell Construction comes to the foreground. 
    Stan Campbell, a contractor who was a mine specialist built the structures of the Atlas Mine, the Red Deer Valley, and the Commander.  The company was formed in 1925 and successfully operated until 1953. Other well known buildings created by this company were St. Anthony‘s original church, the Waldorf Hotel and several buildings on Railway Avenue that are now long gone.
    Mr. Campbell who came originally from Leamington, Ontario died at age 50 leaving the company to his oldest son Donald and following the war to son Stan.  Stan Campbell Sr. had married Catherine who moved from the US with her young daughter Reta to Drumheller. They eventually became the parents of seven very lively children.
    Stan built the house they were raised in which still stands tall and sturdy just over the bridge next to the fossil shop. This house and the surrounding area has seen its share of floodwaters and daughter Vi can well remember leaving her house in 1948 in a canoe a memory many of us can relate to.  Vi relates that her father rented an apartment downtown and they lived there until things dried out.
    “A much simpler time”, Vi recalls as she reminisces about skating on the river near her house, swimming in the huge pool where everyone congregated for socialization, hiking up to “first spring” in the hills on the north side of the river and of course taking in the many hockey games in the local arena. Mr. Campbell purchased season tickets which Vi says allowed the whole family to skate or swim at any time.
    Eight kids were quite a handful even in those early days but they all went to school in Drum and all left their mark in one way or another.
    Reta, the oldest, married, Steve Schaffer and they lived in Newcastle where they raised their family and Steve worked as a miner.
    Stan, born in 1921 passed  away in Powell River, BC in 2002.  Stan joined the RCAF in 1942 and was posted overseas  in 1943 to England as a tail gunner in Lancaster bombers. He completed thirty-one missions over Germany including eleven attacks over Berlin, four over Hamburg and over a dozen raids over Stuttgart, Essen, etc.  he was dubbed “The Hamburg Kid” by his mates following a mission over Hamburg in 1943.  This mission saw Stan rescue his plane after a 10,000 foot drop and fly it home to England with an injured pilot on board. In recognition of this act, Stan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in England in l944. In further recognition of this act of bravery Stan was chosen to represent the Province of Alberta for the Seventh Victory Loan Drive and his mother Catherine was given the honor of christening the H.M.S. Berry Head at the Burrard Dock in Vancouver.  After the war Stan became a superintendent for large construction firms for the next 31 years and passed away with Parkinsons Disease.
    Vera was an RN at the Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary in l945 and also worked as a stewardess for the famous Trans Canada Airlines (TCA) as well as for the Victorian Order of Nurses, a well known organization of the day.  She passed away in l986.
    Vivian was one of the best known of the “Campbell kids”. Started out her working career with the Unemployment Insurance office, then the post office and finally became a mainstay with the Bank of Montreal where she worked for 35 years!  She was very involved in the community and could be seen at most public functions. She was a commissioner of oaths, a member of the local Stampede Board and politically active as an Agent for Gordon Taylor. She passed away in 2010.
    Donald was the hockey player. The Campbell boys were all great sports fans and all had their time playing hockey in Drum but Don at the tender age of 19 got signed on with the Chicago Black Hawks and was with them for one year until his father passed away and he was left to manage Campbell Construction until brother Stan returned home from the Airforce. As soon as Stan took charge of things Donald was off to Seattle and signed with the Seattle Ironmen and later the Kamloops Elks….this far more appealing than running a construction company.  Don still is alive and lives in Kelowna.
    Robert or “Curly” as he was known by locals, played hockey in Drum as well and was a popular player for many years. He became a surveyor’s assistant with Gordon Kidd and eventually moved to Victoria building houses. He passed away in 2006
    Jack also was known as an “up and coming” hockey player and did his stint with the Drumheller teams. He went to work for Canadian Utilities where he worked for many years and then, much to the surprise of everyone, became a sheep farmer in Caroline, Alberta. He had married into the well known Borwick family from Orkney and raising sheep was first and foremost with them and he took to it with great enthusiasm as he did everything. He became interested in politics while in Caroline and was a councillor for the M.D. and later became M.L.A. for the area of Rocky Mountain House. He was a very popular member, acting as Party whip for 3 terms. He and wife Donna live in Edmonton.
    Vi Lowen still lives in Drumheller with husband Chris, although they spent many years on their farm near the Horseshoe Canyon. Vi took her secondary education in Calgary with Hendersons Business College and worked with many local businesses including Canadian utilities as did husband Chris.
    Just an ordinary family who lived and worked in Drumheller and helped to form the community with buildings still standing proud  and memories still relatable to any of us who lived at that time.  Although they mostly lived their adult lives in other areas, they always thought of Drumheller as “home” and will be remembered as hard working and  honest (not to forget the wittiest group of people I have ever known) and typical of the type of people who made Drumheller a great place to live.

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