High Prairie’s Stoess Street mystery

Historic Stoess Street is recognized by this sign. But who was Stoess?
Historic Stoess Street is recognized by this sign. But who was Stoess?

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

High Prairie has a real mystery on its hands: no one seems to know who Stoess Street is named for.

When the Town of High Prairie assigned historic street names years ago, a few took the same names from a map in 1916. From the newly-built railway in 1914 leading north, the names are South Street, Stoess Street, Ireland Street, High Street, Fevang Street and North Street.

The names of Ireland and Fevang are well-known, both being early settlers of the original town.

But Stoess? Who was he and what did he do to deserve the honour?

Trails We Blazed Together reports on page 996: “On July 14, 1914, Pat [Ireland] gave easement to the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway Company to pass through his land. The railway came through in 1914 which started the beginning of the present day town.”

The Oct. 31, 1914 Grouard News confirms this. The report read, “The townsite of High Prairie located on Pat Ireland’s quarter in High Prairie and which adjoins the land secured by the railway company has been placed on the market and quite a number of lots disposed of. Among the business to be established there are two general stores, a restaurant, barber shop, pool room and post office. Mr. Ireland has subdivided 10 acres and the lots are selling at $100 each.”

However, there is no mention of Stoess.

The Ireland family provided a copy of a map in 1916. Trails We Blazed Together later reports, “In 1916, DeCourcey [Pat] and Soren Fevang, who had adjoining land to the north, made the first sub-divisions into lots. This document is on display at our local museum.”

The lots are clearly defined in the map. Ireland and Fevang Streets are clearly recognized. But Stoess? What was his contribution?

An Internet search of the Stoess name is extremely inconclusive. Charles A. Stoess lived from 1853-1916. He worked on bridges and snowshed construction for the Canadian Pacific Railway but “most of his work” was in the interior of B.C. It appears unlikely this is the same man.

Or, is it possible the railway simply honoured his death in 1916 with a street name? An obituary for Stoess could not be found.

A check with local historians and the High Prairie Museum reveals nothing. Nothing is recorded in the Ireland family history.

Who was Stoess? Did he work for the railway? Was he a surveyor? A partner for a short time for Ireland?

If you have the answer, you have solved one of High Prairie’s mysteries. Please share. Many want to know.

A 1916 map clearly outlines the names of High Prairie's first streets.
A 1916 map clearly outlines the names of High Prairie’s first streets.

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