Thank you Volunteers

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!

Meg
World War II soldiers memorial

Leita
Reference files

Ron
World War II soldiers memorial

Willie
Building projects

Jim
Building Projects

Karen
Processing and special events

Betty
Newsletter

Kaylee
World War I soldiers memorial

Emily
Friends of the Archives

Jeff
Friends of the Archives

Mary
Processing and special events

Charlie
Friends of the Archives

Gail
Reference files

Randy
Transcription

Gail
Special events

Cathy
Special events

Pat
Newsletter and maps

Grace
Newspapers and transcription

Mathew
School records

Christmas Past

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)

Grande Prairie Herald ~ 27 December 1926

 

Holiday Closure

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.

Special Delivery from Norway

Last week, the Archives received a very special delivery from Oslo, Norway: a copy of Edvard Hoem’s Liv Andre Har Levd. This historical novel, published by Oktober Publisher, includes a reproduction of 1955 County of Grande Prairie map from our collections. The publisher generously provided a copy of the book for the Archives’ reference library.

Liv Andre Har Levd is the fourth and final installment of a Norwegian series that chronicles the lives of an immigrant family who struggle to make a new life for themselves in Western Canada. The book launched to positive reviews and received a second printing merely two weeks after initial publication. As of Friday, 15 December 2017, Edvard Hoem’s novel has reached 2nd place on the publisher’s bestsellers list. (19 December 2017 update: Liv Andre Har Levd is currently the bestselling novel in Norway)

The book provides an interesting example of the widespread reach of materials from our local collections. Among the sea of unrecognizable Norwegian, we spied the occasional (perhaps untranslatable) English words, names, and phrases: “Alberta Pool Elevator,” “Grand Trunk Railway,” “middle of nowhere,” “Red Cross Hospital,” “homesteaders,” etc. The endpaper of the book includes a portion of the County of Grande Prairie map and provides an authentic supplement to the personal histories within its narrative.

The 1955 County of Grande Prairie map was compiled by R.B. Bowen, the secretary-treasurer of the County of Grande Prairie No. 1. The map records the landowners, schools, and road locations from the area. It is bordered by the Smokey River to the East and the Wapiti River to the South. The original document is displayed in the Reading Room of the South Peace Regional Archives, where it is often consulted by researchers wishing to locate family-owned property.

Click here to browse the book (in Norwegian).

Click here to view a reproduction of the map.

Click here to view the 1955 County of Grande Prairie Land Ownership Map Database.

 

1955 County of Grande Prairie Land Ownership Map [cropped] SPRA 1969.53.075

Happy Hanukkah

Photograph: Hanukkah play in a Hebrew Kindergarten, Calgary, Alberta 1954

From the Collections of Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People

 

When I was asked to write this blog about Hanukkah for the SPRA blog, I was excited to see what local information I could find. Being new to the position of Archives Technician, this project gave me the opportunity to look at all the search tools available through the SPRA website.

Hanukkah or Chanukah means “dedication”.  It is a Jewish observance that remembers the Jewish people’s struggle for religious freedom.  Hanukkah is an eight-day wintertime “festival of lights” that is celebrated from the 25th day of the month of Kislev to the 2nd of Tevet in the Jewish calendar, which begins on December 12 and continues through December 20 this year.  The menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum that holds nine flames, is lit nightly during the holiday. The ninth holder, called the shamash (helper or servant), is for a candle used to light the eight other candles and/or to be used as an extra light.  Hanukkah observers sing special prayers and consume traditional foods that are fried in oil, representing the holy oil in the temple.

I quickly realized that there is a lack of historical documentation, articles, and information about the Jewish community in the South Peace area.  Jewish communities were/are predominantly found in Edmonton and Calgary.  In my research, the Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta (JAHSENA) holds the most public information recounting Jewish settlement in northern Alberta. If you, someone you know, or an organization you are involved in have photographs, documentation, or any information regarding the Jewish community in the past and present in the South Peace region, The Archives would be very interested in hearing from you.

Happy Hanukkah!

 

Christmas at the Archives

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the South Peace Regional Archives…

Among their regular duties, the Archives staff have been busy preparing for the holiday season. This year, the Archives is highlighting our collections through several seasonal displays and projects. Archives Technician Donna crafted a display of homemade Christmas cards which has supplemented the Grande Prairie Museum’s educational programming. Last week, Archives staff and volunteers prepared a festive booth for the Christmas Farmer’s Market featuring local history books, led by former Executive Director Mary. Meanwhile, Donna and Archivist Josephine have been curating a new display of photographs and paper artifacts which highlight “Winter Work and Winter Fun” in the South Peace Area.  Finally, the entire Archives staff began a new office tradition this month: trimming the Christmas trees. The Archives tree Christmas feature reproductions of winter photographs, cards, and postcards from our collections. The largest tree is currently on display in the entrance to the Grande Prairie Museum displays while the smaller two trees decorate the Archives.

The Archives’ Christmas trees and both displays will be showcased at the Community Christmas this Saturday (1-4pm) at the Grande Prairie Museum. Archivist Josephine will be on location to share stories from Christmas past. We hope to see you there!

Shopping at Home

Amazon, Etsy, and a host of other online marketplaces have given a different meaning to the concept of “shopping at home.”  On weekends such as this, when streets and parking lots are at least ankle-deep in snow, online shopping from the comfort of one’s couch becomes even more appealing.

Still, there is something delightful about browsing through the local shops in search of the perfect gift – flipping through books, fingering a selection of scarves and shawls, choosing a Lego set, art supplies, or new pajamas.  And according to this excerpt from the 1930 Grande Prairie Herald, a little planning ahead can make it a pleasant excursion.

Grande Prairie Herald ~ November 28, 1930

New at the Archives: Donna’s First Display

Archives Technician Donna has been busy this morning curating her first display of archival artifacts. The display will be used by the Grande Prairie Museum’s education department to supplement their programming activities.

 

The creation of the Christmas card dates from 1843 in England and was commissioned by Henry Cole. In the 1910s and 1920s, homemade Christmas cards became popular. Technical development, like colour lithography, in the 1930s moved people away from making their own cards. Card designs have evolved over time. The World Wars brought Christmas cards with patriotic themes. In the past cards have also shown Christmas traditions, objects associated with Christmas, Christmastime activities, or other aspects of the season such as the snow and wildlife of the northern winter. Many of these details can still be found in modern Christmas cards.

 

Introducing Donna Richards – SPRA’s New Archives Technician

Hi! My name is Donna Richards and I am the new Archives Technician at South Peace Regional Archives.

I was born in Grande Prairie and have spent most of my life in the Peace River regions of Alberta and British Columbia, except for four years when I attended the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree, I was offered my first teaching position with Peace Wapiti School Division #76 at Sexsmith Elementary School. Three years later I transferred into Grande Prairie. I taught at Harry Balfour School, which was only two shorts blocks from my childhood home, for three decades. After 33 years in the teaching profession I retired in 2014.

After retiring, I felt I needed to keep myself active and engaged. The past three plus years I’ve been busy substitute teaching at local schools and facilitating student teachers from Grande Prairie Regional College. Now I can add Archives Technician to the list! I am thrilled to be given this opportunity and look forward to learning and working at South Peace Regional Archives.

Olwen’s Scrapbook: A Journey to the Peace Country in 1933

On June 7, 1933, Olwen Sanger-Davies boarded the train in her home town of St. Leonard’s on Sea in East Sussex, England to begin a long journey. The first leg was to the port of Southampton by train, then to Montreal, Canada, aboard the SS Montrose, by Canadian Pacific train across Canada to Banff, and up to the Peace River Country on the Northern Alberta Railway. The purpose of her trip was to visit her younger brother Morgan, who lived just outside the Town of Grande Prairie…

Olwen documented her journey and time in the Peace Country in two scrapbooks, containing approximately 500 drawings and paintings. Published by the South Peace Regional Archives, Olwen’s Scrapbook captures her story in Olwen’s own words and illustrations. It is a nostalgic, educational, and artistic gift.

Olwen’s Scrapbook: A Journey to the Peace Country in 1933 can be purchased from the South Peace Regional Archives for $40.00 + GST. Cash and cheques are accepted. Limited copies are available.