From the December 29, 1921 Big Valley News — Big Blaze near Big Valley — A house occupied and owned by a woman named Hastings who was living a mile and a half north of town was totally destroyed by fire at 4:30am on Monday morning. The cause of the fire is unknown. The occupants had a very narrow escape, as when they awoke the house was full of smoke and fire. Nothing was saved and the loss is estimated at $4,000. [about $50,000 in contemporary funds]. The Hastings woman and another person who was staying with her had to walk into town clad only in night attire with blankets over them, and had a terrible time from cold and exposure. The police are investigating the affair.
But there was no investigation, no charges laid. Hastings disappears from annals of Big Valley, Alberta. A story passed down in local histories, of a group of townswomen who banded together to defend their families by burning the brothel to the ground. But we found no records linking the action to any specific women. So we made this up. MAA & PAA Theatre dives into this seamy, darkly funny story, pushed to the fringes of mainstream history. Moving beyond the stereotypes, we look at the uneasy intertwining of prostitution and “proper” society, and the ways that women support and sabotage each other. This historical drama is laced with humour and heart.