A “senseless act of vandalism” was discovered at the Little Chicago-Royalties monument near Longview.
Turner Valley RCMP is investigating after three plaques were stolen from the site sometime between July 7 and 15. The plaques were torn off the stone monument, causing significant damage to the site north of Longview on Highway 22. Police were notified on July 18.
“We can’t really nail down the date (of the theft),” said Irene Kerr, director of the Museum of the Highwood.
Museum staff and volunteers have been caretakers of the site since 2008.
“One of the things they did, was they actually left the north side. It didn’t get vandalized, and that’s the side that faces the road,” Kerr said.
The Little Chicago-Royalties monument holds significant sentimental value to the community and the brass plaques contained commemorative names and a history of the area.
The monument was completed in 2004. It was built by a group of people that grew up in Little Chicago-Royalties, Kerr said.
The "Little Chicago Revisited Committee" embarked on a fundraising campaign and built the monument to preserve the history of the area for generations to come.
There is little remaining at the former townsite to suggest a town was ever there.
"This was a place for them to take their relatives and families, and friends, and show them pictures and the story and to show where it used to be,” Kerr said.
“Little Chicago-Royalties was a pretty impressive little town. It's such a big part of the story of the oil fields.”
Kerr said they will be able to replace the plaques, based on photos and files from the original build. Someone in Longview offered to repair the stonework for no cost, she added.
Everybody on the committee who raised funds and built the monument has since passed away, Kerr said.
“So that's why the museum is involved in the monument,” she said. “Because we promised them that we would take care of it.”
Staff and volunteers with the museum have maintained the monument and installed interpretive plaques, while former residents purchased memorial plaques that have been installed at benches around the monument.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of these plaques is asked to contact Turner Valley RCMP at 403-933-4262. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at www.P3Tips.com or by using the “P3 Tips” app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.