Stephanie Stewart
Athabasca Fire Spotter

At 9:00am on Saturday 26th August 2006, 70-year-old Stephanie Stewart, who worked alone as a fire spotter at the Athabasca Tower, about 15 miles north-east of Hinton, Alberta, off  Highway 40, on a high ridge on the outskirts of the Jasper National Park, failed to make the first of her three regular daily check-in’s. Another fire spotter went to the tower. Stephanie, 5’ 2” tall, weighing 7st 5 lbs, with blue eyes and mixed grey, auburn hair, was nowhere to be found.

  Athabasca Tower
(Global News, Canada)

Her last contact was when she spoke to a family member at about 9:00pm the previous evening. Twelve hours later, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police there were obvious signs of a disturbance and blood was found on the steps to her cabin. There was a pot of water boiling on the stove. Boiling water was something that Stephanie had done every day during the thirteen fire watching seasons that she had spent at the forty-feet high Athabasca Tower. She was a seasoned fire watcher and extremely capable of living a solitary life.

Stephanie was a fit, healthy, adventurous woman from Canmore, Alberta, who had 18 years experience as a fire spotter. She had spent thirteen of those years at the Athabasca Tower lookout. She loved her job and thoroughly enjoyed her time there; gardening, reading, embroidering and painting.

Her Dodge Ram truck was parked on the Athabasca Tower site.

So what happened to Stephanie? The RCMP are sure that she didn't just walk away from her ideal life.

It is unlikely that she just wandered off into the forest. If she did go out amongst the trees, did she get lost? Although the tower is set in dense mountain forest, Stephanie knew the area well, and despite its remoteness, the tower is only three miles from a main road.

If she was out in the forest, could she have been killed by an animal? Possibly, but an extensive land, water and air search of a huge area was carried out with a negative result and the police ruled out an animal attack, along with an accident or medical episode.

Crime was a possibility. Blood was found at the scene and property was missing. Police released a statement indicating that forensic evidence led them to believe that Stephanie had been killed by someone. They declinded to give specific details.

At the time of writing - January 2020 - Stephanie is still missing. The property taken from the Athabasco Tower has not been recovered. Nobody has been held responsible for her disappearance.


(Global News, Canada)