Soldier Spotlight: Clement “Jim” Mead

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new 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.

Rank: Captain
Branch: 49th Battalion

Clement “Jim” Mead was born in Balcombe, Sussex, England on July 25, 1880. He came to the South Peace in 1905; his filed on the following homesteads: 32-72-7-W6; 7-72-7-W6; 16-71-2-W6; 21-71-2-W6; 12-72-8-W6; 7-72-7-W6. In 1913, Jim married Kate Thompson. They had a daughter named Kathleen, born on March 14, 1915. Prior to serving in World War I, Jim had served in the Boer War. He secured a commission as a lieutenant in the 66th Battalion and was placed in command of the Grande Prairie contingent. In September of 1916 Jim was wounded in the foot. In August of 1917, he was awarded the Military Cross:

“Awarded the MILITARY CROSS for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when on command of a raiding company. He led his men with greatest courage and aggressiveness, reorganizing them in spite of severe casualties, and very largely contributes to the success of the raid.”

Jim was wounded a second time in October of 1917, this time receiving severe gunshot wounds to the face. He was killed in action in the trenches west of Lens on January 18, 1918.

Sources: Pioneers of the Peace p. 19-21; Lake Saskatoon Reflections p. 147-150, 181-183; newspaper clippings (see Jim’s biography on our Soldiers Memorial for more links)

Grande Prairie Herald ~ January 31, 1918

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

Photograph: Aboriginal People on Horseback, ca. 1930. SPRA 0032.08.08.0459 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 would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The caption on this photo (SPRA 0032.08.08.0459) describes it as “a group of nine Aboriginal people, including men, women, and children, on horseback.” This photo is part of the Campbell fonds; Isabel Campbell was a local historian who was very dedicated in preserving the history of Grande Prairie.  She collected many photographs that document the history of Grande Prairie across many topics.

The people in this photo are not identified in our records.  If you know who they might be, or have any stories to share about Indigenous people in the area, we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105 to share any memories or information you have.

Soldier Spotlight: Daniel Rycroft

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new 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.

Daniel Rycroft was born in Spirit River on October 24, 1924 to Helen and Robert Henry Rycroft. In 1928 the family left the area to eventually reside in Smoky Heights where Danny took all of his school. In November 1942, shortly after his eighteenth birthday, he enlisted in the RCAF. He was on duty overseas in 1944 when he was reported missing in action. A month later his mother received news that he was alive. His plane had been forced down but he had bailed out and had been taken in by a French family. The French underground were able to assist his return to England where he was hospitalized for a fractured spine and ribs. After returning home, he married Violet Spry in May 1945. They raised a family of six children: Loraine, Greg, Bill, Neil, Jean, and Jack. Danny became a grain buyer for National Grain Co. and then Alberta Wheat Pool for eighteen years. In 1974 he went to work for the County of Grande Prairie. Danny Rycroft died on April 13, 2011.

Photograph: Home on a Christmas leave in Sexsmith, 1944. Picture taken at Sexsmith Train Station. From Left: Ross, Hawkstead, J. Johnson, Danny Rycroft, Sorken. (SPRA 292.02.06)

Read about the Daniel Rycroft fonds here at the Archives

View photographs from Daniel’s collection

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

Buffalo Lakes Lumber Co. 1913. SPRA 001-2001.01.169 Part of Pioneer Museum Society of Grande Prairie and District fonds.

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within our 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 we may have related to Indigenous peoples.

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 would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The caption for this photograph reads, “First sawmill of Buffalo Lakes Lumber Co., taken about 1913 north of Buffalo Lake, with Jim Evans, Mr. Caddy and Mr. Ferguson? as crew. This sawmill was started in 1912, and was preceded by the Argonaut mill on the Smoky.”

This is one small part of the history of Indigenous economic life outside the fur trade and hunting and guiding. Much like the white settlers, Indigenous peoples, both those with long ties to the land and those moving in from the east and the south, took up employment not traditionally associated with them. Their labour helped build the economic prosperity most of us enjoy today.

We are not sure who this Mr. Ferguson is, but if he was St. Pierre Fergusson, not only was he involved with lumber, he also, during his lifetime, operated a stopping place, clerked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, owned a pool hall, and carried out the 1901 Census for the Athabasca region.

If you have any stories you would like to share about the history of local Indigenous labour or entrepreneurship, we would love to hear from you.  Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Soldier Spotlight: James & Dorothy Eastman

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new 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.

Regimental Number: 19393
Rank: Private
Branch: 9th Battalion; 14th Battalion; 1st Division Cycle Company; Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalion

James was born in Grenfell, Saskatchewan in March of 1899. He later moved to the Edmonton area with his parents. In order to enlist in the Canadian army in 1914, James lied about his age, stating that he had been born in 1896. In September of 1915 James was put in confinement to await trial for having left his post before being relieved. He was sentenced to six months of hard labor; however, this order was revoked in October.  James was engaged in the battle of the Somme, the Second Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele, Mons, and Vimy Ridge, and was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery. This award was noted in the London Gazette on March 11, 1919.

At some point, possibly while on leave, James met Miss Dorothy Margaret Thomas, a Red Cross volunteer, in London (see a page from her Red Cross records above).  Dorothy was an Englishwoman, born in London on September 19, 1901.  They were married in the parish church of St. Barnabas Southfields in London in March of 1919.  Following the wedding, the sailed for Canada and eventually made their way to the South Peace.  In 1923, James filed on a homestead at SE34-70-11-W6, near Halcourt.  They remained on the farm for many years and raised seven children.

When World War II was declared in 1939, James once again volunteered to serve.  This time he served as a sergeant of the detention barracks in England.

James died in Halcourt on October 4, 1964.  After his death, Dorothy moved to Victoria.  She died there on July 7, 1990.

Source: Beaverlodge to the Rockies p. 340

A page from James’s military service file (Library & Archives Canada). The note at the bottom reads: “Man says feet do not bother him except on standing on hard pavement any length of time.  Feet flattened but no disability on marching 8 or 10 miles.  After that they tired and ache.”

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

Photograph: Awaiting Her Lord’s Return, 1906.  SPRA 155.02.16

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 would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

This photo (SPRA 155.02.16) is captioned “Aboriginal woman and child at the door of a teepee on the prairie.” The photograph is part of the Bezanson Family fonds; in 1906, Ancel Maynard Bezanson made his first trip to the Peace River Country.  Bezanson documented his trip through photos and notes and in 1907 he published The Peace River Trail, using many of the photographs taken on his first trip.  This photo was taken during his initial trip.  This woman in this photo is not identified in our records.

If you have any stories you’d like to share that would help us discover who this woman is, we would love to hear them! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105 to share any memories or information you have.

Soldier Spotlight: Helen Mary “Nellie” Craig

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new 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.

Force: R. C. A. F. (W. D.)

Nellie Craig was born in Scotland in 1920 to parents James and Sibella (Muir) Craig. With her parents and 3 siblings she immigrated to Canada and settled in the Peace River Country in 1930. The parents rented farms in the Wembley area for 13 years, and the children attended Hermit Lake School and the Klondyke Trail School. Both Nellie and her brother, Charlie, served in World War II. Nellie enlisted in June 1942 with the Women’s Air Force, and she was posted in Davidson, Saskatchewan and Penhold, Alberta in the Post Office Division. Previously, Helen had worked at the Wembley post office for 3 years. Upon her discharge in May 1945, Helen worked as the secretary for the Assistant Minister of Education in Edmonton. In November 1948 she married James Coulson, and the couple had two children: Tom and Maureen. Nellie died at age 85 in May 2006 in Edmonton.

Photograph: The Craig family, from Along the Wapiti, p. 213

Source:
Along the Wapiti p. 213 (story & photograph); p. 412 (Name in WWII Veterans list)
Lake Saskatoon Reflections p. 122-124
AGS website – Obituary Index

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

Flying Shot Lake School. [ca. 1918] Part of SPRA 0032.08.08.0939 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 our 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 would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The caption on the back of this photograph reads: “Flying Shot school & some of the pupils. The boy at the right is the only white one.” Our notes about the photograph state that the majority of students at the school were Metis. The writer of the caption is likely teacher Margaret McDonald.

According to our records, the Catholic brothers at St. Vincent’s Mission on the banks of Bear Creek initially taught lessons to the local Indigenous children starting in 1908. In 1910, the town site for Grande Prairie was laid out on the other side of the Creek and public, one-room schoolhouses started popping in the town and in Flying Shot Lake. All the local Indigenous children went to those schools, including the one pictured here. We do not know if the children pictured here are really Métis, Cree, Iroquois, or Beaver largely because we do not know their names.

We do know that according to the agency history for the related fonds (077 Flying Shot Lake School District 3399 fonds), this building was located on the Clifford place and was also the home and hospital ran by Reverend and Mrs. Forbes. The building also served as the courthouse for Grande Prairie. Our records also tell us that prior to the official opening of this school, Maude Clifford taught school to the local Cree, Beaver, Métis, and white children from the area.

If you think you know who some of these children might be or who their families were, we would love to hear from you.  Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Soldier Spotlight: Philias Durand

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new 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.

Regimental Number: 736927
Rank: Private
Branch: 43rd Battalion

Philias was born on June 17, 1888 in Wotton, Wolfe County, Quebec. It is unknown when he first came out west.  In 1913, there was an explosion in the mine where Philias was working in Fernie, British Columbia. His skull was fractured and he suffered from headaches as a result; not surprisingly, the headaches worsened after joining the army. Philias was wounded at Vimy Ridge in January of 1917; he fractured the middle finger of his right hand and there was shrapnel in his right elbow and left leg. He was also struck in the head and was unconscious for four hours after being wounded and had two fits on the way to England. Philias was sent to a convalescent home in Edmonton, and discharged on November 30, 1917. Numerous disabilities were listed on his discharge paper: loss of function in his right hand, dizziness, pains in his head, poor memory, fits, nervousness, and weakness in his left leg. In the board’s opinion, Philias was mentally deficient. After discharge, in 1918, he settled in the Elmworth area (3-70-11-W6) with his Irish wife. Philias died on February 26, 1962 at the Shaughnessy Hospital, Vancouver.

Philias’s entire military service file has been digitized by Library & Archives Canada.

A page from Philias’s military service file (Library & Archives Canada)

Explore the History of…

The “Explore the History” series in Telling Our Stories focuses on rural communities that were once more than what they are today. In this age of increasing urbanization and centralization, it is easy to forget that the much of the history of the South Peace Region is found in these places. Settlers arriving through the first half of the twentieth century settled largely in the countryside. They made their living farming or utilizing the natural resources the region offered. Distance, time, and poor roads were often obstacles to travel so, once arrived, people tended to work and play locally. As transportation improved and services centralized, many of these small communities faded into fond memories of their former selves.

Ready to start exploring? Pick a tour, grab your sunscreen (and bug spray), and join us as we explore the history of the South Peace!

 

Explore the History of Halcourt Ridge (March 2017: p. 12)

Explore the History of South Wapiti (March 2016: p. 12)

Explore the History of Lymburn & Demmit (September 2015: p. 12)

Explore the History of Crystal Lake (June 2015: p. 12)

Explore the History of the Spirit River Settlement (March 2015: p. 12)

Explore the History of DeBolt –Ridgevalley (September 2014: p. 12)

Explore the History of Huallen and the Saskatoon Mountain Radar Base (June 2014: p. 12)

Explore the History of Grande Prairie and Environs ca. 1914 (March 2014: p. 10)

Explore the History of Belloy and Codesa (September 2013: p. 10)

Explore the History Across the Smoky (June 2013: p. 10)

Explore the History of Bezanson (March 2013: p. 10)

Explore the History of the Bear Creek Flats (September 2012: p. 8)

Explore the Aboriginal History of our Place Names (June 2012: p. 8)

Explore the History of White Mountain (March 2012: p.8)

Explore the History of Grovedale (September 2011: p. 8)

Explore the History of the Kleskun Hills (June 2011: p. 8)

Explore the History of Bear Creek (March 2011: p. 8)

Explore the History of Sturgeon Lake (September 2010: p. 8)

Explore the History of New Fish Creek (March 2010: p. 8)

Explore the History of the Burnt River Valley (December 2009: p. 8)