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

Unraveling the Past

Our most recent Telling Our Stories features the article, “Embroidered Cards: Unraveling the Past.” The article touches upon the history of these lovely and very personal mementos soldiers from the trenches of the Great War sent to loved ones back home. The three postcards from our collection are from two different soldiers but all of them are addressed to the same person – “Jeannie.” While we were able to determine that the two soldiers were most likely Private Robert Bruce Leslie and Lieutenant John Pringle, we could not figure out who was their “dear little friend, Jeannie.”

Luckily, good friend of the SPRA, Margaret Bowes, was able to tell us. “Little” Jeannie was Margaret’s mother, Jean Emilie Alexander O’Brien. Jean was born in 1906 and was one of five surviving children of William Alexander (originally from Scotland) and Emilie Dannhauer of Pembroke, Ontario. Jean was only ten when her mother died of Bight’s Disease and shortly after, watched as friends and family, including Bob Leslie, walked away from the family farm to enlist in the war. Jean later told her children, “My memory is one of sadness.” She knew she’d never see her friends again and she never did.

Little Jeannie became a teacher, married and had three children. Widowed at a young age, she taught at Appleton until 1942, when she moved to Grande Prairie. She then continued her career at Montrose School and the Grande Prairie Composite High School until retiring in 1975. Jean was also very involved in the Grande Prairie music festival and served as church organist for the United Church for many years. She died in 2001 and is buried in the Grande Prairie Cemetery. You can find out more about her and her family in the family papers held at the SPRA in the Alexander Family fonds 572. You can read more about the postcards in the September issue of Telling Our Stories, available on our website.

Thank you to Margaret Bowes for passing this information on to us, as well as a transcript of a letter from Jack Pringle to Bill Alexander (from The Trenches, Sept 12, 1915), and an explanatory Addendum written by Jeannie’s youngest daughter,  Erin O’Brien Woolley.

Top image: An embroidered card from World War I, “To my dear little friend Jeannie from Bob Leslie with best wishes for a merry Xmas and Happy new year.” (SPRA 1996.5.3)

This card was sent to Jeannie from Jack P. (John Pringle) in France, 16 February, 1916. According to the message on the reverse, on October 2, 1916 word reached Spirit River of his death in action. (SPRA 1996.5.1)

An embroidered card from World War I. This card was sent from Belgium on 1 July , 1916, “with best love to Jeannie from R.B. Leslie” (SPRA 1996.5.2)

10 Trends from the 1910s

The Great War Gala is now only a month away, so today we have ten trends from the 1910s to get you started on your wardrobe journey. Don’t forget to visit the Archives to purchase your tickets!

 

Suits You

Lucky for our male attendees, men’s fashion has remained largely unchanged since the 1910s. Consider the Great War Gala the perfect opportunity to purchase the new suit you have been eyeing.

Source: Lake Saskatoon Journal, 2 April 1918

Men’s Hats

The men of Clairmont knew to visit Coblentz’s store for the most up-to-date hats. The Great War Gala takes place only a handful of weeks before Halloween – visit any costume to add a hat and cane to your evening outfit.

Source: Lake Saskatoon Journal, 9 April 1918

Posh Pastels 

You may not be returning to Oxford in the fall, but you can still embrace the pastel summer tones, showcased here in Testament of Youth. Add a belt over a pastel top to create a low-effort 1910s look, direct from your wardrobe.

Source: Testament of Youth (The Telegraph)

Summer Shoes

The fashionable folk of the 1910s purchased new shoes for sports and social outings. As leather prices increased during the war years, canvas shoes became a popular alternative. Many modern flats still follow these trends!

Source: Lake Saskatoon Journal, 22 June 1917

Straw Hats

Although it may be difficult to locate in today’s department stores, a straw hat would have been a staple in the fashionable man’s summer wardrobe.

Source: Lake Saskatoon Journal, 1 June 1917

Matching Hats 

Consider adding an Edwardian hat to your colourful frock. To DIY this look, purchase a large summer hat on clearance and cover it with inexpensive fabric. For extra flair, consider adding feathers, ribbons, or flowers.

Source: Mr Selfridge (PBS Masterpiece

Delaine for Days

Delaine is a lightweight fabric of wool or wool blend made in prints or solid colors. This fabric was ideal for creating clothing items from scratch. If you are feeling ambitious, consider visiting a local fabric store and purchasing materials to create your outfit “the old fashioned way.” You can find plenty of 1910s sewing patterns online.

Source: Lake Saskatoon Journal, 9 April 1918

Sport Clothes

“Sport Shoes with Sport Clothes… That’s the vogue.” Recreate this ensemble by wrapping a colorful scarf around a long jacket. Secure your new belt with a large broach and voila!

Source: Lake Saskatoon Journal, 4 July 1917

White Gloves

No garden party ensemble would be complete without a pair of white gloves. Many costume shops stock these gloves for Halloween, so you can likely find them with little difficulty.

Source: Downton Abbey (PBS Masterpiece

Layers for Ladies

The 1910s upper class ladies began their day by donning numerous layers of undergarments. For true historical accuracy, be sure to don each undergarment (and a corset, of course). You’ll be classy, but not necessarily comfortable.

 

Source: “Svensk-tysk ordbok” (Wikimedia Commons)

Commemorating the Montrose Site

Last Thursday, the Grande Prairie city council unveiled a plaque to commemorate the historical significance of the Montrose site, home of the Montrose Cultural Centre. Grande Prairie Museum curator Charles Taws presented a brief history of the site, aided by records from the South Peace Regional Archives. The plaque features a photograph from the SPRA collections.

The Montrose site was donated by Rev. Alexander and Agnes Forbes, who were among the first settlers of Grande Prairie. Charles Taws celebrated their contribution at the plaque unveiling: “Rev. Forbes was a keen advocate of literacy and education.  He always kept a shelf of books at the front of his church for parishioners to borrow… I think Rev. and Mrs. Forbes would be very proud to see how their gift of this land has developed and helped to make Grande Prairie the vibrant community it is today.”

In 1917, when the first Montrose School was built, it was the largest brick building north of Edmonton. In 1922, the building was was expanded using locally sources bricks from Dalen Brickyard. Montrose School served the entire student population of Grande Prairie until the Grande Prairie High School (now the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie) was built in 1929. The building continued as Montrose Elementary until ca. 1970, when it was torn down.

The architect and builder was Charles Spencer, a member of the Argonauts Company which established “Grande Prairie City.” His papers, including the original blueprints of Montrose School, are housed at South Peace Regional Archives. The Montrose School appears in many photographs in the SPRA collections.

 

 

 

Browse related finding aids:

Fonds 572 Alexander Family fonds

Fonds 356 Charles Spencer fonds

Fonds 460 City of Grande Prairie Historical Photograph collection

Fonds 507 South Peace Regional Archives Library collection

Fonds 518 Montrose Junior High School fonds

Fonds 190 Panda Camera

 

Browse digitized photographs related to the Montrose site online at Alberta on Record.

 

Join Our Team

This posting is now closed. All candidates have been contacted. Thank you for your interest in the Archives Technician position.

 

The purpose of the South Peace Regional Archives is to gather, preserve, and share the historical records of municipalities, organizations, businesses, families and individuals within the region, both now and in the future. These records reflect the personal, cultural, social, economic, and political life of the South Peace River area of Alberta and are in all formats and media, including textual records, maps, plans, drawings, photographs, film and sound recordings.

The Archives Technician contributes to that purpose by processing archival records so that they are available for public research, and by providing public education regarding the importance of archives.  The Archives Technician may be required to assist researchers, volunteers, associated organizations, and archives staff with projects and other duties, as assigned. The Archives Technician works with the Archivist and reports to the Executive Director.

 

For full posting, visit SouthPeaceArchives.org/Careers