From Cleverville to Champion- by Kelly Pasolli

In 1905, Martin Clever, one of a stream of settlers from the U.S., Eastern Canada and Britain, homesteaded on the section of land where Champion is now located. Mr. Clever decided that his land would be a good location for a new country store that could serve the new settlers in the area, so he approached George Mark who ran a store in Nanton and agreed to build a new store on Mr. Clever’s land. Mr. Clever encouraged other settlers to open businesses on his homestead by offering them free land, and in a few years, Cleverville was described as a booming little town, home to a blacksmith shop, livery barn, restaurant and other new businesses. When an official post office was established at the settlement, it was given the name Cleverville in honour of Mr. Clever.

By 1909, the C.P.R. line had been built as far as Carmangay, and the residents of Cleverville were eagerly anticipating the following spring when they expected the railroad would reach Cleverville, bringing with it more opportunities for growth and prosperity. Unfortunately, word soon came that the railroad would actually be going through one mile west and south of Cleverville. Although they must have been disappointed, most of the residents of Cleverville joined in the effort to relocate the settlement. In the summer of 1910, the town was moved to the site that is now Champion. Most of the buildings were simple one story structures that were relatively easy to move when pulled on skids or wagons. More complicated was the two story Farmer’s Restaurant, which had to be transported using several horse teams.

The Moving of the Farmer’s Restaurant from Cleverville to Champion

The Moving of the Farmer’s Restaurant from Cleverville to Champion

The Farmer’s Restaurant was later used as a boarding house and a puffed wheat factory, and in the 1940s became a residence. The residence still stands in Champion today on First Street N.

Less than a year after the move was undertaken, the village of Champion received its charter. There is some confusion over where the name Champion came from, but most sources agree that the new settlement was probably named after H.T. Champion, a partner in a Winnipeg banking firm who was involved with the C.P.R.

Champion Main Street in 1912

Champion Main Street in 1912

To preserve the memory of Cleverville, in 1921 a group of Champion residents organized the Cleverville Pioneer Club. The group was intended to promote goodwill and cooperation, but ended up causing some dissension within the community because of its strict membership requirements. Only families whose descendants had resided in the district prior to 1911 were able to attend Pioneer Club functions. Even after the date was changed to 1912, the club’s numbers fell and it eventually ceased to exist.

  Cleverville Pioneer Club picnic, 1957

Cleverville Pioneer Club picnic, 1957


Photos and content taken from Champion and District History Book, 1999, Cleverville Champion 1905-1970: A History of Champion and Area, 1971, and Alberta Highway History Series, Book 3, 1988

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