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Long Time Legends: Israel Umbach

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Long Time Legends: Israel Umbach 115 0

Ever wondered where the Umbach Off-leash Dog Park got its name? Or maybe you’ve seen the 6-foot, 400-pound metal and bronze man in Rotary Park and questioned his choice of chain accessory.

Israel Umbach was sheriff and tax collector for the Stony Plain area back in the early 1900’s. His claim to fame came after he stood up to a tax-evading railway company. To tell this story, we are going to need to turn back the clock roughly 100 years.

The year is 1907, one year before Stony Plain would come to be recognized as a town. The settlement is a humble community of pioneers, farmers, and honest folk working the prairie land to get by. Unfortunately, the growing Stony Plain is plagued by an unpaid tab. Of the $2,250.22 the town is owed by large companies, Umbach has received a measly $17.57. The town grows restless as pockets grow lighter. Stony Plain’s most prominent debtor is none other than the Canadian Northern Railway, whose tracks were nailed down north of Stony Plain in 1906. Umbach writes letter after letter to Winnipeg, urging the company to pay their dues, but settling debts is not on the company’s agenda.

Tired of the railway company taking advantage of his town, Umbach marches into the Oppertshauser’s hardware store, purchases the thickest logging chain and padlock he can find, and makes his way to the rail yard with pipe in mouth. He loops the chain through the drive wheels and under the track, stands back with a puff from his pipe, and admires his work. Sheriff Israel Umbach has just made the biggest arrest of his lifetime: a train.

Baffled by the small-town sheriff’s antics, the station agent and conductor spit and sputter, and realizing Umbach is not backing down, scribble letters to Winnipeg. Not long after, a response arrives. Israel Umbach and his logging chain prove Stony Plain is not going to be pushed around by big companies any longer.

Interested in learning more about one of Stony Plain’s pioneers? Check out the short film by James Goodwin starring Mike Abraham and Will Mitchell.
 

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Land Acknowledgement : Our community is located on Treaty 6 territory, the traditional meeting grounds, gathering space, and travel route of the Plains Cree, Woodland Cree, Beaver Cree, Saulteaux, Niitsitapi, Dene, Nakota Sioux, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. Explore Stony Plain acknowledges the many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities whose footsteps have marked this landscape since time immemorial.

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