UPDATE – Beaverlodge’s First Double-Murder?

Was this case ever solved?

In 1914 Leonard Stephens came to Canada from England. He made his way to the Peace Region and filed on 16-72-10-6 as well as 27-72-10-6 near Beaverlodge. Another Homesteader Samuel Timmins filed on 22-72-10-6.

Both men were trappers and set out together in 1922 to check their lines. Leonard’s family realized that he and Sammy were late on returning and contacted the R.C.M.P.

The R.C.M.P. investigation turned up the bones of the men and a grisly discovery – the men had been killed by bullets to the back of the head.

In 1926 a notice was placed in the newspaper for claimants on the estate of Leonard Alfred Francis Stephens.  It states his date of death as on or about February 15, 1923.

Grande Prairie Herald Sept. 13, 1926

 

Leonard was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Goodfare.

Less is known about Samuel Timmins; I am not even sure where he was buried.

This story was brought to the attention of the archives by a researcher. If you know anything more, let us know and we will share it with the interested party.

 

Today the person interested in this case has informed us that this was not murder after all but a case of men who were inexperienced in dealing with the harsh weather in the area. More information can be found in an article in the Shoulder Strap (a Police publication) July 1940 or by calling or visiting SPRA.

 

Photo: Beaverlodge, 1930

Source: Information on the murder victims was found in Beaverlodge to the Rockies p. 35-36

Written by Researcher Patricia Greber

 

New Photos At SPRA

A collection of photographs is one of the newest donations we have received at South Peace Regional Archives. The photographs date from 1916-1920s, and have been passed down through the Arnold family.

The Arnolds traveled on the first train that came to Grande Prairie, settling in the Bear Lake district. Edward Arnold, along with his wife Sadie, daughter Louise and son Joe, first rented land from the Patrick family and then settled on NE 12-73-8-W6. Louise attended Big Horn School and later worked as a teacher at Currie School. Mrs. Arnold served as the Niobe postmistress from 1918-1919 and sadly losing her husband Edward in December of 1919.

The pictures depict life in the Peace Country in those early days.

L-R unidentified lady, Mrs. Bredin and Louise Arnold at Bredins in 1921.

 

*top photograph – Currie school students with teacher Louise Arnold

Source: La Glace book “Yesterday and Today” p.154 and information provided by the donor.

SPRA looking for New Executive Director

Applications closed May 5, 2017

SPRA looking for New Executive Director

South Peace Regional Archives Society is seeking a resourceful, energetic person with a commitment to preserving local history for the position of Executive Director. The director is responsible for management and leadership in the Archives and supervises three additional staff members.

Qualifications/Abilities:

  • Relevant degree in Business, History or other suitable discipline.
  • Willingness to train in Archival practices.
  • Ability to promote the Archives in the community.
  • Strong organizational and communication skills.
  • Aptitude for independent decision making and acting with initiative.
  • Supervisory and interpersonal skills to motivate staff and volunteers.

 

SPRA is a community archives funded by four municipal governments, and is an institutional member of the Archives Society of Alberta.

Please forward a resume and cover letter no later than May 5, 2017 to director@southpeacearchives.org.

1917 Thoughts on Vimy Ridge

We forget sometimes that those historic events that loom large in our national psyche and have carried such profound resonance over the years, were at the time, only one of the many events taking place in the lives of everyday people.

This article in the 17th April 1917 edition of the Grande Prairie Herald demonstrates the relative importance attached to the assault on Vimy Ridge shortly after the event. Midway down on the right side of the page, the Canadian assault was a smaller news story than the bid for tenders on a new school and the Red Cross Ball held on Friday the 13th.  Still, it was on the front page and shared that space with other news about the war, including the British capture of 13,000 “Hun” prisoners and “World United Against Huns.”

Grande Prairie Herald ~ April 17, 1917

Three days later, April 20 edition of the Lake Saskatoon Journal does not mention Vimy specifically but it does write about the results of the latest Allied offensive on the western and southern fronts by the British and French. This news shares the front page with articles about wheat trade, munition strikers in Germany, new homestead residences for C. Cady and G. Evans, and the marriage of the “Popular Young Couple,” Mamie Moore and Ulia Douglass.  Other war news that day included the story of British subjects in the US being liable for call up, food sources for the Army and Navy, and the return of Private Ralph Witherly to Grande Prairie.

April 20, 1917 ~ This edition of the Lake Saskatoon Journal will be part of our display commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday

By Archivist Josephine Sallis

The Birth of Our Nation: the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

April 9 – 12, 1917

Across the summit of the ridge
The Maple Leaf battalions pour
They’ve carried it in glorious war –
How great has been the privilege.

(excerpt from The Canadian Machine Gunner, a World War I trench newspaper)

This year, in 2017, Canada will be celebrating its 150th birthday. But for quite some time after confederation, our country was still hiding in the shadow of Great Britain. The Great War, despite its atrocities, was the event that allowed Canada to emerge as a nation and gain the respect, and even awe, of the rest of the world. As Brigadier General Ross so famously said when speaking of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, “It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then… that in those few minutes, I witnessed the birth of a nation.”

In October of 1916, Canadian battalions began arriving in the Vimy sector in northern France, and by December, all four Canadian divisions (100,000 men) were gathered together in one place for the first time in the war. Months of reconnaissance, planning, and digging lay ahead of the men. Private George Wesley Bass, a South Peace man, spent those six months leading up to the battle working with the Canadian Engineers, laboring in the extensive maze of underground tunnels. These tunnels would be exploded at ‘zero hour,’ and men would pour out of them onto the battlefield. Subterranean subways were also built to transport supplies and wounded soldiers. When going over the top on April 13, 1917, Private Bass was wounded in his side and his arm.

The notorious Vimy Ridge is an escarpment approximately seven kilometers in length. It rises gradually on the western side, and drops more quickly on the eastern side. With an elevation of 145 meters above the Douai Plains, the ridge provides an unobstructed view for tens of kilometers in every direction – which explains why the British and French had tried (and failed) to capture it numerous times earlier in the war.

The attack on the ridge was originally planned for April 8, but because of poor weather it was postponed until April 9, 1917 (Easter Monday) at 5:30am. General Arthur Currie, in command of the 1st Canadian Division, had these words to say to the troops headed into battle: “… To those who fall I say: You will not die, but step into immortality. Your mothers will not lament your fate, but will be proud to have borne such sons. Your name will be revered forever and ever by your grateful country…”. General Currie was promoted to commander of the Canadian Corps shortly after the battle, a tribute to its great success.

By nightfall on April 10, the only objective not taken was ‘the Pimple.’ Many different roles must be played for a battle to be so decisively won. One such role was mopping up, the duty of the 49th Battalion, of which many men from the South Peace were a part. Mop-up parties were responsible for following assault parties in order to kill any remaining defenders. They also cared for wounded men on the battlefield and performed other more ‘lowly’ tasks. David Barr was a private in the 49th Battalion and was killed on the first day of the battle, April 9. Following the battle, his battalion received many telegrams and messages of thanks for their enormous and crucial contribution during the attack.

Of the 100,000 Canadians involved in the battle, 3,598 were killed and 7,004 were wounded by the time the last objective was reached on April 12. Some men, like Private Benjamin Gray of DeBolt, were wounded so severely that they were sent home for the duration of the war. (Private Gray lost his arm due to an injury sustained at Vimy Ridge). His Majesty King George V said to Field Marshall Douglas Haig, “Canada will be proud that the taking of Vimy Ridge has fallen to the lot of her troops.” And I do not doubt that the folks here in the South Peace region felt that pride every bit as keenly as the rest of the nation, even as they waited for their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons to return.

It is said that when having learned of the victory at Vimy Ridge, a French soldier declared “C’est impossible!” but upon learning it was the Canadians who had won, he exclaimed “Ah! Les Canadiens! C’est possible!”

That is our legacy.

researched & written by Kaylee Dyck

Sources:

for biographies of George Wesley Bass, David Barr, and Benjamin Gray, visit South Peace Soldiers Memorial

The Canadian Machine Gunner (see pages 18 & 27)

Preparing for the Attack on Vimy – Veterans Affairs Canada

Canadian War Diaries

Battle of Vimy Ridge – Wikipedia

Historica Canada

Dave Barr – Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Serendipity at the Archives

At SPRA we often come across donations that intersect, a photograph or document in one collection can help tell the story about a completely different collection or seemingly unrelated person. An occurrence of this happened last week, I happened to glance over to see what Karen was working on when a photograph caught my eye. It was the same photograph of two men playing chess that I had posted to our Facebook page, with the hopes of learning the player’s names.

 

Karen was working on a donation of records from the Grande Prairie Golden Age Centre and voila, here were my chess players pictured in their scrapbook fully identified, my questions answered.

Karen Burgess processing the Grande Prairie Golden Age Centre scrapbook

 

To put this in perspective, donations can sit on our shelves for 2-3 years before we get to them and add in the coincidence of looking to identify a picture from a separate collection, then there is the fact that processing started on a collection containing the same photograph, and lastly noticing the photograph while Karen was examining the scrapbook. Definitely one for the books!

So now I am happy to report that the names of the people in the photograph are Frank Rennie, Soren Frederickson with Dorothy Tarrant watching. In the back ground is L-R Reg Eyres, Harry Rogers, Fred Towns and Bary Eyres.

By Researcher Patricia Greber

Country Roads: Appleton

This blog is an attempt to continue Kathryn’s “Country Roads” series, and I will start with “A” for “Appleton”. This farming community grew up around Appleton School which was built about two miles south of Beaverlodge in 1913. Marion Hill attended Appleton School in 1934 when this photograph was taken, and it is archived in her collection.

After a new school was built in 1941, Euphemia McNaught had the old log school moved to the McNaught homestead which is now a provincial historical site on Secondary Highway 722 two miles south of Beaverlodge. You can visit the homestead and walk the trails and the new boardwalk down to the lake, or even take a workshop in the old Appleton School. Learn more at the McNaught Homestead Heritage website.

by Executive Director Mary Nutting

Northern Tribune ~ July 23, 1936

 

Work in Progress: Bill Turnbull fonds

Above photograph: Bill Turnbull out for a run, 1976

Bill Turnbull was an educator and photographer in Grande Prairie through the seventies and up to the early 2000s. He was also very active in the running community in Grande Prairie, being one of the members of the old Grande Prairie Legion Track and Field club who helped found the Wapiti Striders Road Running Club.

Between 2013 and 2016, Bill donated over 10,000 photographs to the SPRA. Processing of these records has now begun. On the donation form, the receiving archivist noted that the photographs relate to local running clubs. As I work through the arrangement and description project for this collection, it turns out that the contents are about more than just running.

The photographs in this collection were taken to record the activities of local people many of you probably know. Almost by accident, they have also recorded a history of the urban and rural spaces these people lived in. The site featured in some of the photographs is Muskoseepi Park. The area seems more like a rolling meadow. The trees are so sparse and small. The Heritage Village has very little tree cover and is easily viewed from a distance. It feels like I am looking at the childhood photos of someone I just met.

That is one of the interesting things about records: even the creator is not always aware of the story he is recording. When Bill Turnbull donated his photographs, he said they were about running. The collection is more than that. It is also about people working together for a common cause, people enjoying their life and their youthful vitality. It is also about Grande Prairie and the communities around it. It is going to take a while to process these “running club” records but I think the story they will ultimately tell will be a large one.

by Archivist Josephine Sallis

The Heritage Village, 1988

Soldier Spotlight: Private William Goldie

William Goldie was born in Greenock, Scotland on February 24, 1892. At the time of his enlistment in July of 1915, William was living Grande Prairie; his homestead was located at 4-74-4-W6. While on his way to North Bay with his regiment in spring of 1916, William left the train and the army assumed he had deserted.

However, in June the true story was discovered.  William had been attempting to pass from one coach to another when he slipped from the step and fell into a lake.  He managed to swim ashore, but there was no shelter available and because of his exposure to the elements, he developed frostbite.  Both his feet had to be amputated at Haileybury Hospital in Ontario.  William was in a hospital in Toronto because of the ulceration of the stump of his right foot when the army located him in June.  By that time he had been “supplied with artificial apparatus which is satisfactory.”  In September of 1917, William was discharged from the army.  He never made it to the front lines and for a time was considered a deserter, yet he bore the scars of the war for the rest of his life.

Attestation Paper

Military Service File

Notice of Enlistment

William Goldie’s Medical History

Snow Rollers

I was interested in the mention of snow rollers in this account of a weird winter storm. In the late 1970s there was a storm like this here. The storm itself was a bit frightening, with the very high winds and drastic change in temperature and the power was out for several hours. I remember going out the next day and seeing all the snowballs rolled up in the yard around town. (The picture is of the Anderson house in Wembley, which was an airport house, and now belongs to the Wembley Arts, Culture and History Society).

Written and researched by Kathryn Auger