The Stephen family had a long history in the sheep industry in Canada. Sheila Stephen, daughter of long time sheep breeders Bill and Marian Stephen of Strathmore area, was killed in a tragic industrial accident in May of 1999.
The Memorial scholarship is for young sheep producers pursuing post secondary education.
Sheila’s grandfather Jock Stephen came to Canada from Scotland in 1921. In 1926 he secured a Shepherd position on the CPR farm in Tilley, Alberta. In 1935 the CPR moved his family to the CPR farm near Strathmore after they sold the Tilley farm to the Eastern Irrigation District. The farm was home to at least 100 ewes each of registered suffolk and registered hampshires.
Stud suffolk rams were imported from England and the hampshires from the USA. Their sheep travelled to many shows and sales. Each fall about 40 rams were sent to the Salt Lake ram sale in Odgen, utah (a prestigious sale in western North America) where they sold very well.
Jock was also successful at the Royal Winter Fair winning many classes.
In 1944, the CPR sold the livestock from the Strathmore farm. The purebred percheron horses, yorkshire pigs and holstein cattle were dispersed as well as other livestock and sheep. Harry Viner bought the sheep farm and the sheep. The sheep eventually were sold to Phil Rock of Rockville stock farm. (memories of Charlie Stephen Aug 2011).
Jock’s son Bill Stephen followed his father’s footsteps and after marrying Marian they became well known for their solid, sturdy and dependable lines of north country cheviots and suffolks. They were also successful in the various shows in Canada. Bill was also asked to judge various shows in western Canada.
Sheila, Bill and Marian’s daughter, learned showmanship and other shepherding skills from her parents and was preparing to take a more active role in the farm when her tragic accident ended her life in 1999.
When Sheila died, the need to emphasize youth in agriculture became apparent. The Alberta Sheep Breeders Association took donations in her memory and the “Sheila Stephen memorial scholarship” was started.