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

Mystery in the Archives

Researchers often look for documents to help them answer their research questions. Often though, documents raise more questions than they answer. The 1820 Will of John Davis is an example. Most genealogy websites or historical websites that write about John Davis, HBC Factor and Master from 1803 to 1824, state that he and his wife Nancy (or Ann) had five children: Ann Nancy, Francis (Elizabeth?), Mathilda, Catherine, and George. And yet, in his will, John Davis writes;

“And my will and desire is that in case of the death of my wife or the death of one or more of our children the interest or annuity arising from the above mentioned money shall be applied as aforesaid for the use of the survivor or survivors of my children and further my will and desire is that on the death of all my aforesaid children then and in that case I give and bequeath the whole of my money aforesaid to the issue of my two sons John and William and to their heirs forever.”

The question is – who are these two sons and why are they the last on the list of heirs? Davis names them as his sons but not as one of “our children” (his and Nancy’s). A historian from Winnipeg has been researching the Davis-Hodgson families for several years and notes that HBC records indicate that a William Davis arrived at Portage des Chats in 1818, possibly as a clerk. This was the home town of John Hodgson, John Davis’s father-in-law. Of John Davis the younger, we currently have no clues.

This is only one of many questions this document raises. To hear more about this document and others curated from the records at the South Peace Regional Archives, come out to our presentation at the Grande Prairie Public Library Friday, 15 September 2017 at 1200 noon in the Rotary Room.

10 Shows to Watch Before the Great War Gala

Get your popcorn ready! This week, we have carefully selected ten movies and series to watch before the Great War Gala. These shows explore the multifaceted aspects of the first World War, including the emotional impact of battle, the roles women, and the changes to home front. Many of these shows are available at the Grande Prairie Public Library or on Netflix, so get ready to settle in for a weekend in front of the television.

 

All Quiet on the Western Front

This movie is a must-watch based on a classic book of the same name. It follows a group of German schoolboys, convinced to enlist in WWI by their teacher. The story is told entirely through the experiences of these young German recruits and highlights the tragedy of war through the eyes of individuals.

Source: All Quiet on the Western Front, IMDB

 

Anzac Girls

The true stories of extraordinary young women who witness the brutality and heroism of war and rise to meet the challenge. Our Administrative Assistant, Teresa, recommends this mini series as it presents a women’s perspective of the front lines of the war and the challenges they faced working in a male-dominated environment. According to our records, several South Peace soldiers spent time in the field hospitals of France featured in the series.

This series is available at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: Anzac Girls, IMDB

 

A Bear Named Winnie

This film is based on the true story of a Canadian soldier, enroute to World War I from Winnipeg, who adopts an orphaned bear cub at White River Ontario. The bear is named Winnie (for Winnipeg) and eventually ends up at the London Zoo where it became the inspiration for A.A.Milne’s Winnie The Pooh stories.

This movie is available at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: A Bear Named Winnie, IMDB

Image Source: Original Pictures

 

The Wipers Times

When Captain Fred Roberts discovers a printing press in the ruins of Ypres, Belgium in 1916, he decides to publish a satirical magazine called The Wipers Times. This TV movie is recommended by our WWI Soldier’s Memorial volunteer, Kaylee. One of the soldiers from the South Peace region, Corp. Charles Harrison Sims, served in the regiment portrayed in Wipers Times.

This movie is available at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: The Wiper’s Times, IMDB

Image Source: Huffington Post

 

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth is a coming-of-age story based on the beloved WWI memoir by Vera Brittain. Vera’s story was heralded as the voice of a generation and has become the classic testimony of that war, from a woman’s point of view. Testament of Youth encompasses youth, hope, dreams, love, war, futility, and how to make sense of the darkest times.

This series is available on Netflix or at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: Testament of Youth, IMDB

 

Downton Abbey (Series 1-2)

Downton Abbey chronicles the lives of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early 20th Century. Series one begins with the loss of the Crawley heir in the Titanic sinking and dramatically concludes with Lord Crawley sharing the news of the outbreak of WWI.  Series two spans the Great War, including narratives from Downton and the front lines. This series is recommended by our Executive Director, Alyssa, who enjoys the quality writing, beautiful costumes, and charming British wit.

This series is available on Netflix or at the Grande Prairie Public Library.
Source: Downtown Abbey, IMDB

 

War Horse

Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.

This movie is available at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: War Horse, IMDB

Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory is an American anti-war movie based on the novel of the same name. After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses his soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them. This movie is recommend by our Archivist Josephine who feels it shows how the requirements of duty can conflict with one’s personal moral code.

Source: Paths of Glory, IMDB

 

Mr. Selfridge (Seasons 1-2)

This PBS television series centers on the real-life story of the flamboyant and visionary American founder of Selfridge’s, London’s department store. Season two highlights the impact of WWI on the home front, as the store and staff face the difficulty reality of wartime.

This series is available on Netflix or at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: Mr. Selfridge, IMDB

 

Rebellion

Rebellion is a five part serial drama about the 1916 Easter Rising. The story is told from the perspectives of a group of fictional characters who live through the outbreak of WWI and subsequent political turmoil unfolding in Ireland.

This series is available on Netflix.

Source: Rebellion, IMDB

 

Lost & Found

South Peace Regional Archives’ oldest documents met up with some of their youngest ‘descendants’ Friday, 4 August. Judy, along with her two granddaughters, stopped by to look for records related to John Davis. Davis, they recently discovered, is a long-lost ancestor. As luck would have it, a copy of the will is currently on display in the Village as part of the SPRA’s History of the South Peace in Ten Documents. We brought out the Davis, Hodgson, Coulter papers, including the original will, for her see. Judy shared family history with her granddaughters as they examined the documents in the file. Besides the will, the collection includes calling cards, photographs, and mortgage papers. Judy also filled us in on some of the family history, including identifying family members in the image below. As luck would have it, she has the same photograph at home. It was a remarkable day for the archives and for the family.

Photograph: L-R. Douglas Alexander Currie; Mary Harriet Louise Davis Currie; Robert Davis Currie; George Currie, as recently identified by Judy. Mary and George Currie are her grandparents. Robert is her father and Douglas is her uncle.

~Archivist Josephine Sallis

Save the Date

The Friends of the South Peace Regional Archives invites you to save the date for our upcoming fall event, the Great War Gala. This event will be a night to remember with dinner, dancing, displays from our collections, and more.

A silent and live auction will be held to raise money for the South Peace Regional Archives. Sponsorship opportunities are available; if you would like to receive information on our sponsorship opportunities or be added to our contact list for tickets please call or email the archives at 780-830-5105 or director@southpeacearchives.org.

Every Thursday leading up to the event, our blog will have feature a lighthearted list to prepare you for the Gala; we will be showcasing fun facts, great reads, fashion trends, famous battles, and trench slang.

 

 

Work in Progress – Bill Turnbull “Weaving Lives”

Still at this project. In my defense, it is a huge collection. Bill was a teacher for over 40 years and active in the running community. An avid photographer, he produced thousands of photographs that remind me of this quote: “Every person’s story weaves in and out of another person’s story.” The photographs I’m describing now which depict the Brian Harms Memorial Run are a touching example of this.

Brian Harms began running in 1976 and became one of the top runners in provincial track and cross- country. He switched to road running in 1980 and competed in the first Jasper-Banff Relay that year. Brian Harms was also a founding member of the Wapiti Striders Road Running Club of Grande Prairie. At the time of his death in November 1986, he was the club president.

In his honour, the club changed the name of their 10-mile road race to the Brian Harms Memorial Run. It is touching to see friends and family running and walking in his memory year after year, with new names cropping up as time goes on. Young and old alike are enjoying an activity with a group Brian was instrumental in forming. He touched so many lives then and continues to do so today.

I feel very privileged to be able to work with these records and witness how peoples’ lives intersect. There are some great people and stories waiting here at the South Peace Regional Archives. Hopefully, yours will be here one day waiting for someone to find you again and marvel at all the lives you touched.

By Archivist Josephine Sallis

Surprise Party at the Archives

On Thursday, June 29, staff and volunteers surprised South Peace Regional Archives’ founder and executive director Mary Nutting with a potluck luncheon, celebrating her achievements in preserving the history of the South Peace.  We’ll miss Mary’s presence and expertise at the archives after her retirement, but we know she’ll continue to support the archives and pursue her passion for history.

All the best, Mary!

A gift of Depression glass and flowers for Mary from the museum

Karen Burgess presenting Mary with her gift from the archives staff

“A party without cake is just a meeting.” ~Julia Child

It Takes a Community

The archives is the proud owner of a wonderful new-to-us map cabinet.

A big thank you goes to Weyerhaeuser for donating it to house our maps.

Getting the cabinet to the archives was no easy feat and we would like to send out thank yous to:

  1. The County for transporting the cabinet to us.
  2. Willie Braun for making the trolley for our cabinet to sit on
  3. Parks for giving us a hand getting the cabinet off the truck
  4. City Transport for their willingness to be here and assist with the off-loading
  5. Tim Moore from the GP Museum for always helping us out

Just like our pioneers who came together to work on big projects the archives appreciates all their friends who help us out when we need it!

Hythe Homecoming Collection on SPRA Website

A new collection from the Hythe Homecoming committee has been uploaded to our website.  The collection consists of photographs and documents that were collected by Grace Wideman for the Memory Lane at the Homecoming. The pictures truly tell the story of Hythe through the years 1927-2007, including photos of students, businesses, sporting events, community buildings, and much more.

Six kids on bikes on Main Street Hythe, Alberta, l-r: Gary Reid, Jane Inkster, Brenda Smith, Vernon Mutch, Brock Smith and Jim Moody. Dixon & Hill Store and 2 cafes in the backgroumd, one being the U.N. Café.

Visit Hythe Homecoming 2016 fonds on our website to read more about the collection and enjoy as you tour through Memory Lane.