Between 1905 and the beginning of the First World War, Stanley made several transatlantic crossings, often from Liverpool to ports of Nova Scotia. It was clear that he'd identified the sprawling mass of rugged opportunity of Canada beckoning his pioneering spirit.
Extracts from an Alberta history journal produced in the 1950's refer directly to Stanley and his companion Fernand Charles Butler. After the Boer war 1899-1902, numbers of Englishmen who had taken part in the campaign came out to Canada, and our Municipality received her share of Boer War Veterans.
Butler and Stanley Caws were in the country west of Lac Ste. Anne in 1906, and may have put in squatter’s stakes on the land in the Stanger area where they later filed on homesteads, but had no shacks or houses up until well into 1907. A Dutch pioneer settler stated, “I often met Caws and Butler, our nearest neighbors for a long time. In those days 12 or 14 miles was very close.”
A club was formed by the young men around Lac Ste. Anne – homesteaders, as well as packers, surveyors and freighters. They called themselves the “Legion of Frontiersmen” and met together for good fellowship. On occasion they came as far as Caws’ shack at Stanger for a meeting. They built a hall at Lac Ste. Anne as a club room and for parties and dances.
Several other references expand on this and claim that Stanley was the first Commandant of the Alberta branch of the Legion of Frontiersmen. One includes the following revealing extract; This early-era commandant, was recorded as Caws, Cawes, and Caus. He was a tattooed Boer War veteran and “remittance-man” (often the “black sheep” paid by the family to stay out of England) who formed the first Legion of Frontiersmen unit in Alberta.
The 23 May 1907 edition of the Edmonton Bulletin made reference to Stanley and Fernand that gives an insight to their lives; Messrs. Caws and Butler, who have been land seeking around Lac Ste. Anne, arrived here Sunday evening and stated that while camping near Jack Fish Lake, 17 miles further west, the horses attracted their attention by their startled antics. On going to see the cause they found a big she bear standing about six feet high and three cubs with her. A volley of shouts instead of shots was heard. As hard luck would have it neither possessed a gun. The whole outfit made tracks for the bush, twigs and sticks flying in all directions.
If it is to be believed that Stanley and Fernand had indeed claimed squatters rights on land in Stanger and erected structures there by 1907, the news of 1908 would have been music to the ears of both men.
Under the Volunteer Bounty Act of 1908, veterans of the South African War were entitled to 320 acres of Dominion Land. Stanley made his application to the Secretary of the Militia Department in Ottawa on 16 February 1908.