Movie Monday: Outdoor Expedition

Image: A film still showing two men resting whilst on an expedition (SPRA 0253.01.06, Fonds 253: Jerry Stojan family fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Today’s Movie Monday features more footage from Jerry Stojan’s outdoor adventures. This 8mm film was taken circa 1959 and includes content ranging from what appears to be mining, to a helicopter in flight.

The world’s first practical helicopter took flight in 1939. The Bell 47 – which is likely the type of helicopter seen in this film – became the first helicopter certified for civilian use. It was introduced in 1946 and came to Canada in 1948. More than 5,600 of the machines were manufactured between 1946 and 1974. The 47G, with its full “bubble” canopy, was introduced in 1953 and became the most common model. At the time this film was taken, helicopters would have been a relatively new mode of transportation.

The helicopter appears twice in the film – once to pick up some type of cargo, and later returning to pick up two of the men who were on the expedition. Presumably at least one man remained on the mountain, as someone films the departure of the helicopter.

From the Vault Friday: 1908 Birth Certificate

Image: Maggie Alexander’s birth certificate, issued by the Government of the Province of Alberta, 1911. (From SPRA 572)

Today’s “From the Vault Friday” features a birth certificate from the Alexander Family fonds (Fonds 572). Maggie Alexander was born in Strathcona in 1908 to William and Emilie Alexander. In 1911 the family moved to Rycroft and settled on a farm west of the town.  Maggie married Emil Baron from Stony Plain in 1931 and the couple had three children. Maggie was employed as a secretary-bookkeeper in Edmonton and at the town office in Fort Saskatchewan. She died in 1995.

The image below is a modern Alberta birth certificate; how many differences can you see?

For more information on the Alexander Family, visit Fonds 572: Alexander Family fonds.

From the Vault Friday is a social media campaign that highlights interesting materials from the collections of the South Peace Regional Archives. This project was made possible by an Access to Holdings Grant from the Archives Society of Alberta.

Soldier Spotlight: Driver Arthur Betteley

Image: Arthur’s description of his injury from his service file (Library & Archives Canada)

Regimental Number: 12969
Rank: Driver
Branch: Canadian Army Service Corps

Arthur was born in May Bank, Staffordshire, England on May 19, 1894. It is unknown when he first came to Canada. On September 23, 1914, Arthur enlisted in the Canadian Army at Valcartier. At the time he stated that he was working as a ranch hand. In April of 1915, Arthur received gunshot wounds to his leg. On September 21, 1916, Arthur slipped and fell while carrying a table into a marquee. The floor was wet, having just been scrubbed, and he fell while walking backward carrying the table, which subsequently fell on his leg. He was carried out on a stretcher and it was discovered that his left fibula was fractured (see pages 68 and 69 of Arthur’s service file for the story and witnesses’ testimonies). In 1927, Arthur filed on the northern half of 19-69-11-W6. Arthur was in the Veterans Guard and may have seen action in World War II as well. He died in 1960 and was buried in the Beaverlodge Cemetery.

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Movie Monday: Homecoming Itinerary

Image: A film still of Eaglesham, as viewed from the front seat a Model T Ford (SPRA 0477.04.03.11, Fonds 477: Eaglesham and District Drama Club fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

In 1991, the community of Eaglesham organized a homecoming celebration. As an introduction to the event, this video was filmed to give attendants a tour of the village and brief them on the activities that would take place over the course of the weekend. The tour is filmed and narrated by Greg Donaldson from the front seat of a 1927 Model T Ford, and a detailed schedule of events is given by Steve Cregg.

Point of interests shown in the film include the fairgrounds, Centennial Hall, the school, arena, and of course a grain elevator – the icon of any prairie town. Most of these locations would play host to activities and events over the course of the weekend. The celebration commenced with a pancake breakfast on the morning of Saturday, August 3, and was followed by a parade, fair, and dance. A bus tour, school tour, church services, and a three-act play written especially for the occasion were also part of the celebration. For Mary Peterson, age 77, one of the highlights of the weekend was being named Eaglesham’s Homecoming Queen.

We hope you enjoy this detailed look at one of Eaglesham’s most celebrated moments in history!

From The Vault Friday: “Looking Ahead” Booklet

Images: Excerpts from “Looking Ahead in the Peace River Country to the Building of a City” pamphlet, written by Ancel Bezanson in 1914. From SPRA 155.01 (pages 1 and 3).

Todays “From the Vault Friday” features a booklet from the Bezanson Family fonds (Fonds 155). The booklet, titled “Looking Ahead in the Peace River Country to the Building of a City” was published by Ancel Bezanson in 1914. The purpose of the publication was to garner interest in the region and encourage homesteaders to move to the “Last West.” It includes a detailed map of the Bezanson town site, several photos of the area, and impressive claims about the future of the region. According to the pamphlet, the Peace River country “is today attracting the attention of Capitalists and homeseekers in all parts of the world.”

Ancel Maynard Bezanson began his love affair with the Peace Country in 1906. That year he traveled throughout the Peace with a camera and a notebook, and shortly thereafter published “The Peace River Trails” to promote the Peace River Country as a place to settle. He was convinced of the agricultural potential of the area, and began promoting the Bezanson townsite with great enthusiasm. However, when the railroad finally came in 1916, it came to Grande Prairie—not Bezanson. The “Townsite” was subsequently abandoned and eventually designated a Registered Historic Resource in 1986.

To view the entire booklet, visit the digitized version available on Alberta on Record.

To learn more about Ancel Bezanson, visit Fonds 155: Bezanson Family fonds.

To learn more about the history of the Bezanson area, visit Telling Our Stories March 2013 (pg 10).

 

From the Vault Friday is a social media campaign that highlights interesting materials from the collections of the South Peace Regional Archives. This project was made possible by an Access to Holdings Grant from the Archives Society of Alberta.

Introducing: A Tribute to Mary Nutting

The South Peace Regional Archives is pleased to announce the launch of a new video series honouring the late Mary Nutting. The series, produced by Grande Prairie Seniors Reading Theatre with support from M3M Marketing, showcases reading performances of A Grande Education: One Hundred Schools in the County of Grande Prairie, 1910-1960.

A Grande Education tells the stories of one hundred one-room schools in the County and features photographs, correspondence, and other documents. This joint project serves to honour Mary’s legacy and share our local community history: “Our hope is to share these videos with the community and most of all with seniors who have been missing family throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We know there are many out there who would appreciate learning and reminiscing about the history of the region” (Seniors Reading Theatre). The Archives would like to thank both Seniors Reading Theatre and M3M marketing for their hard work bringing this project to life.

Catch up on the series below, including the first school featured: Blooming Valley School! New videos will be posted every week on M3M’s YouTube page and shared on the South Peace Regional Archives’ Facebook page.

To purchase a copy of A Grande Education, visit the Archives’ online shop.

Note: Performances have been recorded in-person, over zoom or via voice recording. In-person recordings followed Alberta Government regulations at the time of filming.

Soldier Spotlight: Werner Quassowsky

Image: Coal miner digging at a vein of coal with a pick 350 feet into the earth at a Wapiti Coal Mine, 1937 (SPRA 032.08.07.043)

Werner Quassowsky was born in East Germany (now part of Russia). In 1935, he enlisted in the German army and spent two and half years in training, then returned to his parents’ farm. In 1940, he was called up. Werner fought for 10 days in France and later in Russia until 1945.

Werner was hurt in an explosion and sent by boat to Denmark. When he was sufficiently recovered, he was released and walked back to Germany, first to the English zone and then to the American zone where his parents had been relocated after being expelled from their land by the Russians.

Werner worked first as a farmer and then as a coal miner. In 1953, he immigrated to Canada, landing in Quebec and then taking the train to Rycroft. He found work building highway 49 and had various other jobs. He filed an a piece of land in the Bay Tree area which he homesteaded, using compensation money from the West German government to help clear the land.

In 1977, Werner has a hip replacement. In 1979, he broke the hip and had to give up farming. He passed away in Hythe on December 30, 1990.

Sources: Homesteaders’ Heritage (p. 93)
Hythe Headliner, January 22, 1991

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Movie Monday: Vintage Tractors

Image: A film still from a vintage tractor demonstration (Fonds 605, Paul Pivert fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Agriculture is synonymous with the Peace Country. The bountiful farmland is what drew settlers to the area in the early 1900s, and for more than a century farming has played an essential part in shaping the culture and economy of the region. In 2006, the Peace Country boasted a total of 13.5% of Alberta’s cropland – the second largest cropland area in the province.

Early settlers did much – if not all – of the labour on their homesteads by hand or with the help of livestock. It wasn’t until after the First World War that gas-powered tractors began to appear in the South Peace. These early gasoline models (having evolved from steam-powered models known as ‘ground locomotives’) had 20- to 30-horsepower engines. Steel wheels with cleats were the norm for the first few years until rubber wheels were introduced. Comfort was not a priority as early tractor models were being developed; as seen in the video below, even machines in the 1960s did not have cabs. It was in the 1970s that canopies and cabs became more popular.

Comparing these machines to what we see on farms today causes one to marvel at the seemingly primitive resources available to farmers in the first three quarters of the 20th century. Yet to those who had gotten their start with a two-horse team and a scythe, these early gasoline-powered tractors would have been revolutionary.

From The Vault Friday: Snow Plane License

Image: Highway Traffic Board License Registration Certificate, from SPRA 142.

Welcome to the South Peace Regional Archives’ first “From the Vault Friday!” Join us every Friday as we highlight interesting materials from the collections. This project was made possible by an Access to Holdings Grant from the Archives Society of Alberta and will continue throughout 2021.

Todays “From the Vault Friday” features a snow plane taxi & ambulance license from the Harold Peebles fonds (Fonds 142). The license was issued to Harold Peebles c. 1947. It cost $21.00, which is approximately $265.29 in 2021 currency. Harold used the snow plane to run a taxi and ambulance service. The snow plane worked well in the winter months, when few Peace region roads were ploughed.

Harold was born in Flinton, Ontario on August 14, 1899. He came to the Peace Country with his family in 1912. In 1915, Harold and his father George enlisted in the Canadian Army, followed by his younger brother Arthur near the end of the war. During WWII, Harold operated a canteen for the Legion.

For more information about Harold Peebles, visit Fonds 142: Harold Peebles fonds.

For more information about Peebles’ WWI service, visit the WWI Soldiers Memorial.

Soldier Spotlight: Sapper Rowland George Absolon

Image: Rowland’s letter asking for assistance to purchase glasses (National Archives of Australia)

Regimental Number: 6211
Rank: Sapper
Branch: 16th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force; 4th Field Company, Australian Engineers

Rowland was born in Hanley, Staffordshire, England on June 15, 1879. He and his wife Polly (nee Batkin) were living in Trayning, Western Australia at the time of his enlistment in 1916. Rowland was wounded in May of 1918, but remained with his unit. In July of 1918, was absent without leave overnight. In 1929, Rowland requested a replacement for his discharge certificate as his had been lost and he needed the documentation in order to file on a homestead in the South Peace. He was successful, and filed on NE 13-74-13-W6 in 1929. Rowland’s vision was poor, however, and he struggled to succeed as a farmer. He and Polly moved to Vancouver, and in 1938, he contacted the Australian government asking whether there was any assistance available for returned Australian soldiers living in Canada. Rowland’s vision and hearing were failing, so he was having difficulty finding work and providing for himself and his wife. He hoped that government assistance might enable him to get his eyes treated and purchase glasses (view page 17 of his service file for more details). Rowland died in Vancouver on February 25, 1962.

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.