Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Hudson’s Bay Buildings, Fort St. John, [ca. 1949]. SPRA 032.08.08.0945 Part of Campbell Family fonds

 

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we are sharing some of these images and documents.

The original caption on the back of the photograph states: “Two of the old Hudson Bay Co’s Buildings on the Peace River – Old Fort St John. There were originally 3 b’l’dg’s – One was burned a few years ago. It was the store house that was burned. No 1. was the store where articles were exchanged for furs etc. with Indians who came in canoes on Peace River. N 2. was the Court House The little room at the End was the jail. The Factor was also in charge. Many thrilling events occurred here.”

Ft. St. John, demolished shortly after this photograph was taken, was the unlikely home of two Ft. Dunvegan fur trade ledgers discovered by a Canadian engineer on the Alaska Highway crew. Originally created to document the business of the fort, these two ledgers contain information about some of the Indigenous families living and trading in the region in the early to mid-1800s. Like many of the documents and photographs preserved in the SPRA, the ledgers have taken on an informational life beyond their original creator’s intent.

If you have any stories you would like to share, or questions you want to ask about your family’s ties to the fur trade, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.