Image: William Innes in his home, using a radio set, ca. 1930 (SPRA 032.08.08.1090)
Make your mark on history. Visit the Archives Sound Booth in the Grande Prairie Museum on Sunday, February 18 between 1:00 and 4:00 to tell the story of your family. An Archives member will provide participants with an audio recorder and interview prompts. Your family story will be preserved in the South Peace Regional Archives and available for future generations. Limited interview times are available. Visit the Archives information table early to book your time!
Above: Card shared between Margaret and Eddie Schadeck, 1948. SPRA 131
Below: Pages from Valentine’s Card n.d. SPRA 136 (1992.48.175)
Valentine’s Day can be traced back to ancient Rome when Lupercalia, a fertility rite, was celebrated between February 13 and 15. Later, after the martyrdom of two Christian saints – Valentine of Terni around AD 197 and Valentine of Rome around AD 496 – the Catholic church Christianized the holiday by claiming 14 February as St. Valentine’s Day.
You will not be surprised to learn it was the French who made it into a celebrated annual feast day for lovers with lavish banquets and singing and dancing during the 15th century. Nor should you be surprised to learn that the oldest surviving Valentine committed to paper was written by a French man. While imprisoned in the Tower of London following the 1415 battle of Agincourt, the Duke of Orleans wrote to his wife: “Je suis desja d’amour tanné/Ma tres doulce Valentinée,” which means, “I am already sick of love/my very gentle Valentine.” The letter must not have made it to his wife as it is held at the British Library, which also holds the oldest surviving English Valentine. Written in 1477, it was sent by Margery Brews to her “right well-beloved Valentine,” fiancé John Paston.
Hand-made Valentine’s cards became popular in the 18th century. During this period, factory made cards also began to be produced, although they did not become popular until the 19th century. Possibly the oldest surviving printed Valentine’s card is the 1797 card at York Castle Museum, England. It was sent by Catherine Mossday to Mr. Brown of London and read: “Since on this ever Happy day,/All Nature’s full of Love and Play./Yet harmless still if my design,/‘Tis but to be your Valentine.”
To continue in the tradition of celebrating Love on St. Valentine’s Day, here are a few choice Valentine’s Day cards from our collection. Their heartfelt expressions, though written in the past, still ring true for friends and lovers today.
Below: Cards shared between Margaret and Eddie Schadeck before 1949. These two cards have movable parts. SPRA 131.
Below: Valentine shared between Muriel and Clem Collins, n.d. SPRA 476.
South Peace Regional Archives is looking for volunteers for our transcription projects. You can volunteer any time and from the comfort of your own home – all you need is a computer! We can work with you to find a transcription project that interests you. Some of our recent projects have included personal letters, a handwritten telegraph manual, and a fur trade ledger.
The January 26, 1934 issue of the Grande Prairie Herald included several pages of notes from the rural communities of the South Peace region. Whoever the writer, or writers, of these “Seen & Heard” columns, they were well informed of the day to day happenings of their communities… and had a subtle wit besides.
Above: Sexsmith curling ladies in 1928 posed with brooms, rocks, and a trophy. Skip Mrs. Brown (left), ?, Mrs. Ellsworth Foy (holding cup), and ? presumably outside the Sexsmith Curling Rink.
Not everyone is ready to wrap themselves up in their snuggly blankets and hunker down on the couch to binge watch their favourite TV shows when the temperature drops. Even on the coldest day, joggers, dog-walkers, students and workers brave the chill to do what they need to get doing.
It was no different in the early days of the South Peace. Daily chores had to be done, deliveries had to be made, railways and roads needed to be built. Winter work was balanced by winter fun. South Peace residents were quick to organize sports teams and winter carnivals to help them make most the most of the northern weather.
The ice cutters. Two men loosen blocks with hand saws while one man pulls blocks out with ice pick and two men load blocks in truck prior to delivery.
Brave the winter weather and make your way to the library tonight for the presentation, “Winter Fun, Winter Work,” by Archivist Josephine Sallis from the South Peace Regional Archives. The presentation starts at 6:30 pm.
Featured Photograph: First Wedding in McQueen Presbyterian, 1918 (SPRA 1986.24.1)
Love is in the air. This weekend, hundreds of brides-to-be from around the South Peace flocked to Entrec Centre for the “Ultimate Wedding Show.” The annual event brings together local wedding vendors and engaged couples, looking to make the most of their big day. Here at the South Peace Regional Archives, we are preparing for wedding season in our own way – by composing the latest issue of Telling Our Stories!
The March issue of Telling Our Stories will reflect on weddings and wedding traditions throughout the history of the South Peace. The Archives is currently seeking photographs or stories from weddings in the McQueen Presbyterian Church, preserved in the Grande Prairie Museum Heritage Village. The McQueen Presbyterian was the first Protestant Church to be erected in Grande Prairie. It was founded by Rev. Alexander Forbes in 1911 and served until 1925. Gertrude (Trudy) Bezanson and Herb Mattinson were the first couple to wed in the McQueen Presbyterian Church on June 18, 1919. Gertrude later reminisced that “the wedding was the talk of the town for years” (DHT, 20 June 1986).
The McQueen Presbyterian Church continues to serve as a wedding venue in its current location in the Grande Prairie Museum’s Heritage Village. Each year, approximately 8 couples say their “I do”s in the historic Church during the months of June, July, August & September. We would like to hear from couples who married in the McQueen Presbyterian Church – at any time during its history! Your stories and photographs could add to a long history of joyous nuptials in this historic Church. If your photograph(s) are chosen for our March issue, you will receive a complimentary one-year subscription to Telling Our Stories for you or a friend.
Contact Director@SouthPeaceArchives.org for further information.
The Archives recently received a research inquiry seeking information on a wooden token produced by Weyerhaeuser. The researcher had previously received two possible explanations for the origin of the token and was seeking evidence that would substantiate either claim. One source indicated that the token was produced by Weyerhauser during the 1995 Canada Winter Games in Grande Prairie and redeemed in its sponsored tent on site for a hot chocolate. However, another source indicated that the token was issued in Yellowknife. NWT for a “Canada Games.” With permission of the researcher, Archives staff turned to our Facebook followers for more information.
We shared an image of the wood token on our Facebook page to tremendous success. Over 7700 people saw, commented, or liked the post. Many of our Facebook followers joined in the mystery by tagging their friends or speculating on the token’s possible use. Perhaps it was used as a gambling token at a staff holiday party? Maybe it was used as a drink token at a community barbecue? In less than a day, Weyerhaeuser employee Noreen Schultz had confirmed the token’s origin: she had ordered the tokens from local promotional company, GP Promotional. They were distributed in exchange for hot chocolate during the 1995 Canada Winter Games. Another former Weyerhaeuser employee, Linda Everton Pearson, shared a photograph of the commemorative mug that the hot chocolate came in. The mystery was solved!
Photograph: Last month, Archives staff prepared a holiday brunch for our volunteers to show our appreciation. Volunteers enjoyed a ‘Christmas morning’, including brunch, games, and presents.
As the Archives moves forward into a new year, we would like to thank the dedicated team of volunteers who continue to aid our organization. In 2017, South Peace Regional Archives volunteers contributed over 2000 hours of their time to collecting, preserving, and sharing the history of our area. Our volunteers are critical to the success of the Archives; without their help, many of our special events and projects simply would not be possible. We truly appreciate the hard work of each and every one of our volunteers- thank you!
Flipping through past issues of Grande Prairie newspapers, you can see the importance of community celebrations. There are announcements for and descriptions of any number of dances, school entertainments, pageants, concerts… even programmes for special radio concerts were published in the weekly papers. This 1926 entertainment included songs, recitations, and skits, and of course no Christmas entertainment would be complete without the appearance of Santa Claus himself.
Photograph: Christmas concert at Beaverlodge School, 1925 (SPRA 362.02.12.22)
HOLIDAY CLOSURE: The South Peace Regional Archives will be closed December 23rd – January 1st to allow our staff and volunteers the opportunity to spend the holidays with their families. We will reopen on January 2nd.