Welcome, Stephanie!

The South Peace Regional Archives is pleased to introduce the newest member of our team. Stephanie Friesen has recently moved from Vancouver, BC to work as the new SPRA Archivist. Please join us in welcoming her to Grande Prairie and the Archives!

Hello everyone, my name is Stephanie Friesen and I originally hail from a small town in Manitoba. I recently graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Masters in Archival Studies. Before starting my master’s degree in BC, I completed an undergraduate degree in Archaeology at the University of Saskatchewan. During my time completing that degree, I was fascinated to learn how archival sources contributed immensely to a particular archaeological study. I also wanted to be able to facilitate research and widen people’s knowledge into the past (without personally digging in the dirt). This led me to becoming an Archivist!

My most recent position before coming to the South Peace region was as the Archivist and Records Manager at an independent school in Metro Vancouver. Another previous position I held was as a Collections Assistant at the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. In that position I was involved in a digitization pilot program where I digitized records held at a partner institution in order to make them more accessible to Survivors and other researcher through the RSHDC’s website. Before that, I was a records management co-op student with a large department at UBC where I was involved in a server migration project. I also spent a summer working for the Rossland Museum & Discover Centre as their Assistant Archivist.

I’m so excited to be the new Archivist at the South Peace Regional Archives and to begin learning all about this community. I look forward to meeting with many of you in the future.

Soldier Spotlight: Captain Arthur Craig

Image:  Convalescent home at Paignton, Devon, England, 1918 (SPRA 1969.59.331)

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: Lieutenant; Captain
Branch: South African Cavalry; South African Infantry; Royal Air Force

Arthur was born in Cape Town, South Africa on February 22, 1889. He served in West Africa and France with the South African Army during World War I. Arthur was severely wounded at Delville Wood during the Battle of the Somme on July 16, 1916. A citation reads:

“A bombing party under Lieut. Craig attempted to rush across 40 yards of ground which lay between the British and enemy trenches. Coming under very heavy rifle and machine gun fire the officer and the majority of the party were killed or wounded. Unable to move, Lieut. Craig lay midway between the two lines of trench, the ground being quite open. In full daylight Pte. Faulds, accompanied by two other men, climbed over the parapet, ran out, and picked up the officer, and carried him back, one man being severely wounded in so doing.”

Arthur eventually arrived in the South African Military Hospital in Richmond, England, having been taken to the dressing station and then by stretcher bearers to the South African Hospital at Abberville, the closest to the front line. Once he healed, he left the South African Infantry and joined the Royal Flying Corps (later the RAF). It was with the Corps that he was shot down in the observational balloon, again injured, this time receiving the steel plate in his head.

In 1919, Arthur came to the Peace Country with his brother George and filed on homesteads at NW 7-73-11-W6, NW 12-74-11-W6, and NE 12-73-12-W6. He canceled all three. Arthur met his wife, Marjorie Lily Marshall, in Edmonton in 1924. He later worked in silver mines in different parts of Idaho. Arthur died in Idaho in 1958 (1968?).

Sources: news clippings

Cecile’s Western Birds

If you’ve received your copy of Telling Our Stories, you will already have had a glimpse inside the “Western Birds” book written and illustrated by eleven-year-old Cecile Sandboe Angen in 1931. Cecile’s family contributed a digitized copy of this book, as well as a selection of family photographs, to be shared in our magazine. The following biography was written by Cecile’s daughter, Gail Risvold.

It is appropriate to write about my mom in this edition of your magazine because she was always interested in birds.  She put bird feeders out and she took great pleasure in observing which birds would come to visit.  One time when she was visiting us in Hinton my husband Ross and Mom sat on our patio and watched the different birds that came for a drink in our backyard pond.  I decided it was time to clean the pond and put in fresh water but I also added an ingredient that got rid of algae.  The instructions stated that it was safe to use and it would not cause harm to any animals including birds.  BUT the birds did not agree!  They did not come back for a drink and I felt bad because I deprived Mom of the pleasure they had experienced. They quickly drained the water without me knowing and the birds returned.

Mom started school in Taco, Saskatchewan.  Then the family moved back to LaGlace and she attended Buffalo Lake School, a one-room schoolhouse.  Mom and her siblings would walk 3.5 miles each way and in winter they traveled to school with a horse and sleigh.

Mom was very responsible and obedient.  Ted Heimdal sat behind Mom in school.  He would bug and aggravate Mom on a regular basis.  One day Ted kept poking Mom with his stick pen.  Mom got so mad she smacked him with her ruler.  The class, including the teacher, heard the smack.  Mom thought she would get in trouble but instead she noticed Mrs. Maple turn away to hide her smile.  I guess she thought Ted deserved what he got.

Mom was also a hard worker, a wonderful cook and a great home maker.  She was intelligent and very creative.  She started oil painting later in life and did fantastic paintings.  We laughed at her when we played Pictionary because she was not able to draw a simple, quick picture.  She painstakingly tried to draw a perfect picture but she always ran out of time.

Mom was the daughter of Carl and Clara Sandboe.  She was born on September 27, 1920 in LaGlace.  She was their first child and she was delivered by a midwife in the house where Ed and Guero Torgerson lived, about a mile north of LaGlace. Carl and Clara had six other children and the bond was very strong with the Sandboe family.

Mom married Olaf Angen on June 21, 1941.  They had three children – Garry, Gail and Rosemarie.  They had four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.  Family was so important to Mom and she treasured time spent with family members.

Mom lived her final years in Pioneer Lodge and she died on December 7, 2015 at the age of 95 years.

View Cecile’s “Western Birds” here

Carl and Clara Sandboe and their family on their La Glace farm, ca. 1939. Back: Eunice, Cecile, Clara, Carl Front: Raymond, Talbert, Chester, Cyril, Gordon. Contributed by Cecile’s family.

Closed to the Public

On March 16th, the South Peace Regional Archives closed to the public, amid rising cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) throughout Alberta and the rest of Canada. This closure resulted in an abrupt halt to all in-person donations, research requests, and volunteer work at the Archives as well as the cancellation of all public outreach events. The Board of Directors voted to postponed the AGM, originally scheduled for March 28th, until further notice.

The safety of our staff, volunteers, and members of the public remains the Archives’ first priority. The Archives will remain closed to the public until it is possible for us to reopen safely. Updates on the Archives’ services, including any plans for reopening, will be posted on our website and Facebook page.

While the South Peace Regional Archives remain closed to the public, our staff have been hard at work completing vital behind-the-scenes tasks to support our mission of gathering, preserving, and sharing the historical records of our region. Archives staff are also available via phone and email during regular business hours to provide remote research assistance. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Welcome, Kaydence!

Kaydence Redding is a first year Political Science student at the University of Alberta and the latest addition to the Archives team. Welcome, Kaydence!

Kaydence will be working with us this summer as the Archives Assistant (Student) to gain practical experience in the Archives and learn more about the cultural heritage sector. She will be working on content for Telling Our Stories, projects related to the Indigenous History Committee, and launching a new #ThrowbackThursday social media campaign.

Kaydence has become passionate about the importance of sharing and preserving local history through her studies as a Political Science student, as a prolific local volunteer, and as a past president of Charles Spencer High School’s social justice club, “The Maverick Movement”. She is very excited to be working with the Archives this summer!


National Grant Supports Reconciliation Project

Photograph: Beaver Camp on the Beaverlodge River, 1911. SPRA 0024.01.05.01

The South Peace Regional Archives is launching a new Reconciliation project, made possible Library and Archives Canada’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP).

The project, called “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records” will utilize records related to Indigenous peoples within the collections of the Archives. The project will examine records from 56 fonds previously identified by the Indigenous History Committee as containing Indigenous content, in order to provide culturally-appropriate descriptions and contextual information. It will increase access to approximately 300 Indigenous-related archival photographs and paper artifacts through digitization and promotion on social media. Through consultation with the Indigenous History Committee, the project will enable Indigenous peoples to engage in the identification of photographs and paper artifacts from the South Peace Regional Archives.

For more information on the project, or on joining the Indigenous History Committee, please contact Executive Director Alyssa Currie at director@southpeacearchives.org.

This project has been made possible in part by the Documentary Heritage Communities Program offered by Library and Archives Canada / Ce projet a été rendu possible en partie grâce au Programme pour les collectivités du patrimoine documentaire offert par Bibliothèque et Archives Canada

In Memory: Mary Nutting

The South Peace Regional Archives is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our founding Executive Director and dear friend, Mary Nutting. Mary passed away on Monday, April 20, 2020 after a two year battle with breast cancer.

Mary discovered her passion for history after spending a year in England and subsequently discovering the rich history of our local region. After several years of volunteering at the Grande Prairie Museum, Mary completed an initial survey to identify the locations of archival records of the South Peace. In 2000, she became the founding Executive Director of the South Peace Regional Archives, where she worked for the next seventeen years.

One of Mary’s great passions was connecting people to their history. She enjoyed exploring the family collections and helping people in their “treasure hunts” through the Archives. Mary once shared this particularly memorable encounter:

“Not long after the Archives opened in 2000, I received a request to view a particular diary. The visitor was the grand-daughter of the author and had never seen the diary in question. She smiled at me as I handed her the file, but then an amazing thing happened. As her hand touched the cover of the diary, the tears began to stream down her face. She was not just reading about an historical event, but touching her grand-mother in this document that had been so personal to her at a memorable and difficult time. It surprised us both, I think.”

Among Mary’s proudest achievements was authoring and contributing to numerous historical publications, including Olwen’s Scrapbook: A Journey to the Peace Country in 1933 and A Grande Education: 100 Schools in the County of Grande Prairie,1910-1960. Her contributions to preserving local history were recognized by numerous awards through the years. Regarding her work in the Archives, Mary once said:

“The South Peace Regional Archives are all about time. The time that has passed, the time that keeps on passing, but also the time that is given to all of us to create a future for that past time.”

Mary’s time with the Archives created a legacy that will endure for generations. Her tireless work to preserve our region’s history profoundly impacted our organization, and so many others. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her and her impact will be felt by countless others.

Mary’s full obituary is available from Oliver’s Funeral Home.

 Photograph courtesy of Fran Rodgers Photography

Now Hiring: Archivist

South Peace Regional Archives is seeking an Archivist for a full-time, permanent position tentatively beginning 1 June 2020. The Archivist oversees the process of acquisition, preservation and accessibility of archival records. The Archivist works with both the Awareness Committee to develop educational programs and events that enhance public awareness, as well as the Indigenous History Committee to foster Reconciliation efforts in the Archives. The Archivist works with and reports to the Executive Director.

35 hours per week; permanent position
Posting closing date: 1 May 2020
Tentative start date: 1 June 2020

Location: Grande Prairie, Alberta
Salary Range: $42,000 – $55,000

The full job posting and description can be viewed at www.SouthPeaceArchives.org/Careers.

Archives at Work

Image: Hard at work behind the scenes like these gentlemen!  Two men take time out for coffee beside their equipment and a campfire, ca. 1942 (Fonds 345 Hanna Kirstien, SPRA 2009.040.14)

Self-isolation and facility closures are stressful for everyone. They can also be opportunities while we give health care professionals, public service professionals, and vital service professionals the space and time they need to help keep our communities safe.

Here at the South Peace Regional Archives, while we are closed to the public and suspending our outreach, staff is tending to some long overdue projects. Some are big, some are small. We have a couple of large arrangement projects that we can dedicate substantial amounts of time to in order to finally complete them. Our library shelves need rearrangement to accommodate growth both in the size of our collection and the increase in Indigenous themed texts. And the dreaded cataloging can be tackled.

Work on our quarterly magazine never stops. Our next issue is for the birds. We will be pecking through the records for interesting fonds, photographs, and paper artifacts related to our feathered friends. If you have any suggestions for articles about birds, bird watchers, or bird catchers, please let us know.

This is also a great time for us to plan. We have a number of potential grant project coming up this year. Preparatory work for the new, temporary hires is underway. While we are not currently conducting outreach, we can still prepare for them. Our outreach program continues to grow into the communities outside Grande Prairie. Our popular City cemetery tours are being expanded into the county this year. Last year’s displays at the MD of Greenview community barbecues and the Grande Cache 50th Anniversary celebrations met with great success and this year we hope to find a venue for displays at Birch Hills County and Saddle Hills County.

In some cases, it is not just Archives staff hard at work. Volunteers on our Awareness committee, Indigenous History committee, and the Future Planning committee are conducting research to support outreach, Reconciliation, and the growth of the South Peace Regional Archives. Our reference file volunteers are still busy clipping away to keep information current.

Last but not least, this is a great time to declutter our desks. All those things-to-do lists, quick research notes, box locations, and I’ll-get-to-that-tomorrow piles can all be gotten to. Finally.

Despite all the work we have to do, we are still available to provide some remote research assistance. Our website is a rich resource for anyone looking for something to do while schools and other facilities are closed. Our online researcher guide can be the start of your journey through South Peace history. Explore by topic or person.  A browse through the online photographs on Alberta on Record can be entertaining and informative. Just type in a single word search and see what comes up. You never know what you might find.

Stay safe, everyone.

Archives Closure

Update Tuesday 17 March 4:00 PM:  The Board of Directors has voted to postpone the Archives’ Annual General Meeting, originally scheduled for March 28th, until further notice. Details regarding the rescheduling of the AGM will be communicated as soon as they are available.

Effective immediately, the South Peace Regional Archives is closed to the public for an indefinite period. We will not be accepting any visitors for donations or research requests, and all volunteer work is paused. For those who wish to carry out research, our web page is an excellent resource for information on local history. We respectfully request those with remote research requests to allow us this week to assess how we will address the situation as events at home and around the world unfold. Updates on our services will be made available on this blog or Facebook. Thank you for your patience.