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!

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.

The Battle for Passchendaele

Photograph: South Peace Archives, Edward Heller fonds, SPRA 194.01 [cropped]

 

The Battle for Passchendaele was the final victory in the larger British offensive in Flanders to drive the Germans from the essential Channel Ports and to eliminate their coastal U-boat bases.

The offensive began on 31 July 1917. Despite the constant rain, the British managed to obtain most of their objectives by October. Most but not all: Passchendaele, just east of Ypres, remained in German hands. With the Australian and New Zealand troops exhausted, Sir Douglas Haig, commander-in-chief of the British Expeditionary Force ordered in the Canadians.

Appalled at the battlefield conditions and despite limited preparation time, Sir Arthur Currie, commander of the Canadian Corps, carefully planned the upcoming battle and ordered vital improvements to gun pits, road, and tramlines.

The battle commenced on 26 October. By mid-November, the Canadians reached their objective. The cost was high: nearly 16,000 Canadians dead or wounded. Among those were men from the South Peace Region.

Some of those men include D.W. Patterson (fonds 152), Edward Heller (fonds 194), John Thomas (Digby) Smith (fonds 367), Arthur Buck (fonds 298 ) Walter Spry (fonds 559), and Herman Klukas (fonds 635). Others, for whom we have few or no records include Harold Hugh Black, William Andrew Cowan, John Proctor, John Francis McLeod, Frank M. Longair, William G. Longhurst, Walter Emerson Eaton, William George Hodges, Frederick C. Keith, and Gustaf “Smithie” Listhaeghe.  You can view their stories at SPRA’s online Soldiers’ Memorial.

To get an idea of the devastation they fought through, consider attending the Passchendaele movie screening at the Grande Prairie Regional College this Friday. We will also have a small display honouring our South Peace veterans who played a role in this important battle.

 

Canada Remembers Program  http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war/fact_sheets/passchendaele

The Great War Gala

Last Friday, the Friends of the Archives Society welcomed guests to its Great War Gala. We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to all those who attended the event, donated to our auction, and supposed our cause. Take a look at some of our favorite photographs from the event…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The South Peace Goes to War

The South Peace Regional Archives has curated a new exhibit for the Community Room at the Grande Prairie Museum. The new exhibit features ten photographs from the SPRA collection that tell the story, “The South Peace Goes to War.” The ten photographs were chosen by SPRA staff from a variety of collections, including the Edward Heller fonds, Turner family fonds, and Harry Tuffill family fonds.

Beginning with the first enlistments of 1914 making their way down the Smokey on the Beaver to the celebration of war’s end at Bear Lake, these ten photographs lead the viewer on a journey through the social history of the Great War. Below is a brief description of the exhibit. For more information, feel free to visit the exhibit in person.

OFF TO WAR

The Beaver Carrying Freight and Men To Enlist, 1914.

The Beaver river boat is carrying freight and men who are going to enlist. Three men are sitting on the bow of the boat, another is poling and the rest are standing on the boat.

SPRA 024.01.09.28 Holroyd Drugs Photograph Collection 024

 

FOREIGN SERVICE

French Troops in Camp, 1914 ca.

World War I French troops in camp, with soldiers, officers, horses and wagons in the background.

SPRA 0164.02.10 Gabriel Basly fonds 164

 

RECRUITING

Recruiting, 1915.

Five men in World War I uniforms standing on the main street (100 Avenue) of Grande Prairie. Businesses visible in the background include the Crown Café, a pool hall, and a confectionary.

SPRA 555.04 Edith Mair fonds 555

 

TRAINING FOR BATTLE

WWI Soldiers on a Break, c.1917.

WWI soldiers at rest with their saddles, buildings in the background.

SPRA 589.04.14 Donald Gordon Morrison fonds 589

 

FORGING FRIENDSHIPS

Charlie T.M.Turner and Army Friend, ca. 1915. [Charlie Turner may be the man standing]

Chas. T.M.Turner and his army friend during WWI.

SPRA 2011.44.05 Turner Family fonds 478

 

LIFE AWAY FROM HOME

Soldiers Playing Cards, 1914 c.

Harry Tuffill playing cards with a group of World War I soldiers.

SPRA 0056.01.075-3 Harry Tuffill fonds 056

 

TRENCH WARFARE

WW1 Troops Sitting in a Trench, 1916.

The photograph shows soldiers, some injured, sitting in mud behind a trench wall. One is holding a stretcher, two men each have one arm in a sling.

SPRA 0194.02 Edward Heller fonds

 

NO MAN’S LAND

WW1 Troops Trudging Across a Muddy Field, 1916.

The photograph shows soldiers in the distance walking along a wired barricade through a very muddy field.

SPRA 0194.03 Edward Heller fonds

 

MEDICAL SERVICES

WWI Convalescent Hospital, 1918.

Patients and staff at “The Larches,” a WWI convalescent home at Paignton, Devon, England. Note on the back reads: “Shattock with best wishes from K.C. Gauney September 14, 1918.”

SPRA 1969.59.331

 

WAR’S END

Great War Veterans Picnic, Bear Lake, Alberta, 1920

Postcard showing a people gathering at Bear Lake for a picnic in honor of the Great War Veterans.

SPRA 0112.02.23 Croken-Tomshak family fonds 112

Battle Report: Archives Week and the Great War Gala

This week, the South Peace Regional Archives is celebrating Archives Week 2017: Alberta and the Great War.

The Archives staff have been hard at work curating a new display for the community room of the Grande Prairie Museum. This display features documents and photographs from the Archives collections and represents many aspects of the war, from recruitment and enlistment to discharge and celebration. It will adorn the community room for months to come and enhance the educational programming provided by the Grande Prairie Museum staff.

Meanwhile, Archives staff and Friends of the Archives volunteers are also busy preparing the finishing details of the upcoming Great War Gala. Archives staff created ten different displays featuring reproductions of archival records from our collections. Friends of the Archives volunteers designed tabletop decorations and silent auction displays. Both staff and volunteers are  looking forward to the musical performances from GPRC’s Fine Arts students and faculty, including: Kristina Alexander (mezzo-soprano), Jeremy Thielmann (piano), Brad Luna (trumpet), Breanna Girvan (soprano), Mackenzie Lowen (soprano), Kyle Friesen (baritone), and Mark Woodman (tenor).

Don’t miss out on your chance to celebrate with us; purchase your tickets for the Great War Gala today!

Planning the Montrose School

Every year new schools seem to be popping up in Grande Prairie to accommodate the needs of a growing city.  In 1916, the plans for a new school for Grande Prairie were accepted by the Alberta Department of Education.  At the time of its construction in 1917, the Montrose School was the largest brick building north of Edmonton and in every way a “credit to the north.”

A plaque was recently unveiled at the Montrose site, commemorating its historical value.  For more about this event, visit Commemorating the Montrose Site

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 26, 1916