Sad news coming from Orion, Alberta this morning.  I have received word from a  few friends of Forgotten Alberta that the pioneer-era hardware store operated by prairie icon, Boyd Stevens, burned to the ground on Christmas Day.

A video posted on Facebook by Logan Biesterfeldt shows the store already completely engulfed, as locals scramble to contain the fire on a frost Xmas morning. 

Comments  on Facebook and elsewhere online indicate that Boyd is safe, but I will post confirmation and further details once they become available.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have stopped by Stevens Hardware on a few occasions in during sojourns through the south, and had the privilege of conversing with Boyd about his life and times in isolated Orion, Alberta. Visitors to Stevens Hardware  were assured of great conversation, and came away knowing the intimate details of the history of the region. Hopefully Boyd made it through okay, and his family’s legacy will continue.


Boyd Stevens: Storekeeper & Orion #Alberta icon. #FABTrip14 @prairiepostalta

A photo posted by Jonathan Koch (@forgotten_alberta) on

Boyd and the store were subjects of a video short by director, Sean Thonson, of Travel Alberta fame (“Remember to Breathe”) calledPassing Orion“.

9 Replies to “Big loss for Orion: Stevens Hardware destroyed in Christmas Day blaze”

  1. I used to talk to Mr. Stevens when I worked at the Gulf Truck Loading Depot between 1970 and 1975. He would phone in his fuel order and I was the biller. I visited Stevens Hardware and Garage many years later and chatted with him. Orion is indeed an isolated place and the store was from another era. i love wandering around that part of Alberta! Also am enjoying “Forgotten Alberta” which I just discovered. Thanks!

  2. Thank-you Norman! It’s remarkable that a man with so few neighbours has accumulated so many friends over the years. You nailed it when you said the store was from another era. I think that’s why so many of us will miss it so. I’m hoping Stevens Hardware will rise again, but I’ve heard no word recently about Boyd’s conditions, or his future plans. I hope he’ll bounce back.

  3. Hi Jonathan.

    Happy New Year!

    Thank you for sharing the story of Boyd Steven and his misfortune over the Christmas period. I myself heard about it on Christmas Day hours before it went viral on Facebook. It was a shock for me (and many others). Ironically, the first photo I have ever taken of Boyd Steven’s store was on Christmas Day 2013 (even though I have visited it numerous times prior).

    Neverless, I wanted to mention that Boyd is recovering in Medicine Hat and is in good spirits. He has indicated he hopes to rebuild the business at some point, though I am unsure if rebuilding the store is part of it. Thanks again, and will be intouch with your Suffield – Kipp railway article.

  4. Who would I get in contact with to find out who owns a house in Orion. It was my Great Grandma’s Lena Bennett. It is the house with the license plates on the gate.

  5. Hi Alzena, thanks for stopping by! I’d to hear the history of your Great-Grandma’s time in Orion. As for who owns it, contacting the County of Forty Mile might be your safest bet. They might be able to do a land title search for you on the property in question. I will also do some digging and see what I can find.

  6. I remember taking my two girls for a country drive around that area tenyears ago and we stopped at the Orion grocery store to get a bag of chips and some pop. My youngest daughter was trying to squeeze a harden marshmallow in a bag that was on a display table. Beautiful area and we walked up andaround the old school house and play ground. The view is wonderful to behold. I live in Edmonton but still remember that country side.

  7. Thanks Kevin! I don’t recall any marshmallows on my last visit, but the old store was a veritable museum and time capsule rolled into one. The solitude is glorious down there.

  8. Hi Tiana – I caught up with Boyd in July, he was doing well and in good spirits after the fire, and had moved into a building next to the old store. No word recently, so hope all is well.

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