Who burned down the
Anglican Church?
SION, October 6, 2006:  The Sion corner features some fascinating and exciting memories.  It also provides some interesting ghosts which haunt it.  One of these ghosts lurks in the sign which stands at the southwest corner of the intersection, in the old cemetery which itself houses innumerable memories of years gone by.  Ever since 1970, when that historic church mysteriously burned to the ground, that sign has been an unending reminder to the community that the church was destroyed by arson.
Who was the arsonist?  If you ask the old-timers in Sion today, they'll tell you it was probably the same person who had a few years earlier allegedly burned down his own general store, namely, Herb Schutt (pronounced "shoot").  It was well known that Herb Schutt was depressed.  His store at the time it burned down was becoming dilapidated, and Mr. Schutt had more bills to pay than he had money coming in with which to pay them.  The building was probably insured against accidental fire, but the people who live in this community who still have vivid memories of the early sixties tell us that store did not burn down by accident.  
We asked Richard Arndt and Roberta (nee Servant) Soppit at the Nakamun Superette point blank one day in the fall of 2006: "Who burned down the Schutt store and the Anglican church?"
"It was probably the same person," Richard says.  "We can't prove it, but I'll tell you this, it couldn't have been anyone else."
Herb Schutt was a mysterious old man.  He was friendly enough, but he was plagued by economic troubles, and the people here believe he lit the fires which burned down the two landmarks.  
The Schutt family subsequently moved to Kelowna, B.C., and the rumor mill to this day has it that for a couple of years during which most people at Sion believed Schutt was living in Kelowna he actually did some time in jail.  What for?  Arson was in all likelihood the main reason.
Over the years the landscape has changed.  Most of the quarter-section on which the old store and St. Luke's Anglican Church stood is today (2006) owned by Dorothy (nee Michael) Malychuk.  Dorothy's brothers John and Tommy, who are still closely associated not only with the historic store and church, are also closely associated with the Sion Lutheran Church three miles east of that corner, on Range Road 13, just north of the Baseline Road.
Another brother, the late Andy Michael, was an early owner of the old general store before Herb Schutt bought it.  Andy sold the store to Jack Brown in the sixties, and Jack Brown in turn, in later years, sold it to Herb Schutt.  After Andy sold the store he went to work for the Northern Alberta Dairy Pool (NADP), delivering milk with a horse-drawn wagon.  Andy died on Christmas Day, 2003, at the age of 72..  
Herb Schutt, as noted above, apparently finally put an end to the historic old store when he became convinced it had outlived its usefulness.  After that it was downhill for Herb.  Things went from bad to worse until in 1970 the final straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, seems to have been the destruction of the Anglican Church.  We haven't found any conclusive proof that Herb set fire to it, but we haven't found anyone who can logically refute the story either.  
It's all part of the history of the Sion corner — some good, some not so good, and some, like the arson mystery, a bit hellish.
 
The foregoing part of this book took shape largely over the past year (2005-6), and our writers are now concentrating on gathering stories and photos for a much more extensive history of the Sion community.  The arson story on the previous page (p. 25) is just one of Sion's many historic events.  The name of the game now is to bring together much more local history which we can add to the UPWARD TO ZION story.
The Sion Community's leading business establishment, the Nakamun Superette, celebrated its 30th Anniversary in the late summer of 1905.