Science & Stories About the Land

Image: In 1949 a second floor was added to the Grande Prairie Municipal Hospital, almost doubling the bed space. (SPRA 1969.42.01.6, Alberta Association of Registered Nurses fonds)

Science and technology records are often in short supply in a small, regional archive. This is certainly true at the SPRA where the Smoky West Rural Electrification Association Ltd. Fonds, the Bear Hill Rural Electrification Association fonds, and the Grande Prairie Electric Co. fonds, which sound all power resource science-y, generally contain records related to administration and membership. The same is true for collections containing records related to medicine including the Alberta Association of Registered Nurses, Chapter 13, fonds, Tangent Municipal Nursing Society fonds, and Wanham Municipal Nursing Service fonds, as well as a few doctors’ records, tend to be administrative or related to family and social life.

 

Cover of the 1954 Assessment Manual, donated by Al Martin. SPRA 2018.008

One fonds with a solid chunk of material is the Peace River Archaeology Society fonds. It contains administrative records, newspaper clippings, and newsletters.  The science-y part is the Project series which contains slides, negatives, and field notes for the Grande Prairie Inventory in 1985, the Birch Hills Survey in 1987, and the Peace Project in 1991. These records help share the stories the land has to tell about its history. Al Martin’s recent donation of records related to his and Doug Cottrell’s work as land assessors adds to those stories. The donation includes 5 metres (10 banker boxes) of documents including manuals, farm guides, soil surveys, and related histories as well as three maps. We are very excited to be able to include this material in our collections, especially as the land has played and continues to play a big part in writing the history of the people in this region.

Closed for Family Day

The Archives will be closed on Monday February 18th for Family Day. Join us Sunday, 1-4pm, for Family Day activities with the Grande Prairie Museum!

Photograph: Family Picnic, SPRA 0002.01.03.068

Archived Love

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.

Calling All Volunteers

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.

Married in McQueen

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.

 

McQueen Presbyterian Church (SPRA 1969.39.960.06)

Wooden You Know

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!

For more information on the 1995 Canada Winter Games, see Fonds 603: 1995 Grande Prairie Canada Winter Games Host Society fonds

 

Photograph submitted by Facebook user Linda Everton Pearson

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

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!