Ancient cast iron stitching machines clutter Andy Fadeef's cramped saddlemaker's shop in downtown Stavely. Fadeef is proud that the customers for his finely tooled, $5,000 saddles are “working cowboys.” The same can be said for Stavely itself, a real working cattle town where “western lifestyle” means big-as-you-can-get pickup trucks and dashboard radios tuned to the midday livestock market report.
Situated between Nanton and Claresholm on Highway 2, Stavely comes to life Friday mornings when the Foothills Livestock Auction at the south end of town bustles with cattle and traders. The hockey arena resounds with the hoof beats of quarter horses during May's Stavely Indoor Rodeo, the first of its kind when introduced in 1929. In mid-July the arena hosts the annual Willow Creek Gathering, a celebration of campfire food, cowboy poetry and western music.
Stavely's downtown, anchored by a wooden grain elevator, looks much like it did when the town was incorporated in 1912. False-front facades and weathered advertisements painted on brick walls attest to the authenticity of this last true cow town in Alberta SouthWest.