Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: Aboriginal People on Horseback, ca. 1930. SPRA 0032.08.08.0459 Part of Campbell Family fonds

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The caption on this photo (SPRA 0032.08.08.0459) describes it as “a group of nine Aboriginal people, including men, women, and children, on horseback.” This photo is part of the Campbell fonds; Isabel Campbell was a local historian who was very dedicated in preserving the history of Grande Prairie.  She collected many photographs that document the history of Grande Prairie across many topics.

The people in this photo are not identified in our records.  If you know who they might be, or have any stories to share about Indigenous people in the area, we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105 to share any memories or information you have.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Buffalo Lakes Lumber Co. 1913. SPRA 001-2001.01.169 Part of Pioneer Museum Society of Grande Prairie and District fonds.

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within our holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records we may have related to Indigenous peoples.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The caption for this photograph reads, “First sawmill of Buffalo Lakes Lumber Co., taken about 1913 north of Buffalo Lake, with Jim Evans, Mr. Caddy and Mr. Ferguson? as crew. This sawmill was started in 1912, and was preceded by the Argonaut mill on the Smoky.”

This is one small part of the history of Indigenous economic life outside the fur trade and hunting and guiding. Much like the white settlers, Indigenous peoples, both those with long ties to the land and those moving in from the east and the south, took up employment not traditionally associated with them. Their labour helped build the economic prosperity most of us enjoy today.

We are not sure who this Mr. Ferguson is, but if he was St. Pierre Fergusson, not only was he involved with lumber, he also, during his lifetime, operated a stopping place, clerked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, owned a pool hall, and carried out the 1901 Census for the Athabasca region.

If you have any stories you would like to share about the history of local Indigenous labour or entrepreneurship, we would love to hear from you.  Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: Awaiting Her Lord’s Return, 1906.  SPRA 155.02.16

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

This photo (SPRA 155.02.16) is captioned “Aboriginal woman and child at the door of a teepee on the prairie.” The photograph is part of the Bezanson Family fonds; in 1906, Ancel Maynard Bezanson made his first trip to the Peace River Country.  Bezanson documented his trip through photos and notes and in 1907 he published The Peace River Trail, using many of the photographs taken on his first trip.  This photo was taken during his initial trip.  This woman in this photo is not identified in our records.

If you have any stories you’d like to share that would help us discover who this woman is, we would love to hear them! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105 to share any memories or information you have.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Flying Shot Lake School. [ca. 1918] Part of SPRA 0032.08.08.0939 Campbell Family fonds.

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within our holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The caption on the back of this photograph reads: “Flying Shot school & some of the pupils. The boy at the right is the only white one.” Our notes about the photograph state that the majority of students at the school were Metis. The writer of the caption is likely teacher Margaret McDonald.

According to our records, the Catholic brothers at St. Vincent’s Mission on the banks of Bear Creek initially taught lessons to the local Indigenous children starting in 1908. In 1910, the town site for Grande Prairie was laid out on the other side of the Creek and public, one-room schoolhouses started popping in the town and in Flying Shot Lake. All the local Indigenous children went to those schools, including the one pictured here. We do not know if the children pictured here are really Métis, Cree, Iroquois, or Beaver largely because we do not know their names.

We do know that according to the agency history for the related fonds (077 Flying Shot Lake School District 3399 fonds), this building was located on the Clifford place and was also the home and hospital ran by Reverend and Mrs. Forbes. The building also served as the courthouse for Grande Prairie. Our records also tell us that prior to the official opening of this school, Maude Clifford taught school to the local Cree, Beaver, Métis, and white children from the area.

If you think you know who some of these children might be or who their families were, we would love to hear from you.  Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: McArthur’s Store, Sturgeon Heights, [ca. 1935]. SPRA 116.09.01.01.0272

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The caption of this photo (SPRA 116.09.01.01.0272) describes it as “A First Nations man and his dogsled team outside of McArthur’s store in Sturgeon Heights. The McArthurs also had a store in DeBolt. Used in “Across the Smoky,” p. 286.”  This photo is part of DeBolt & District Pioneer Museum Society fonds; the Museum Society published the local history book “Across the Smoky” in 1978.  Neither the book nor our description has any information about the identity of the man in this photo.

If you have any stories you’d like to share that would help us discover who this man is, we would love to hear them! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105 to let us know any memories or information you have.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

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

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The original caption for this image reads: “Three men and a child in front of three teepees at a Beaver First Nations Camp on the Beaverlodge River. Lovering.”

George Lovering filed for land in the region in July 1911 and drove from Edson over the Long Trail with Fred Saul and his family in November of that year. Snow appears in the foreground of this image so possibly it was taken during that winter drive. According to the community history book, Pioneers of the Peace, the Saul family celebrated Christmas with decorated trees, a pine-bough laden tent and candles “… to the wide-eyed amazement of some 75 Indians who came to view the glittering spectacle.” Were these three tents part of that group? Who were the Beaver families that were camped at this location?

If you have any stories you would like to share that might help us add to our knowledge about this photograph and the people it represents, please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105. We would love to hear from you.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

Our caption describes this photo (SPRA 0291.04.11) as an Indigenous Man With Pack Dogs (1942-1943). The man is not identified; he is described as “a man stands outside in winter with a couple of dogs beside him.” This photo is part of Ray Menard Alaska Highway collection. The Ray Menard fonds contains 92 photographs taken by Ray during the time he worked as a mechanic and machinist on the construction of the Alaska Highway from 1942-1943.

If you have any idea of who this man might be we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

(above: Christ Church Mission. 1906. SPRA 0157.20a Part of Jessie & Robert Holmes fonds)

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The postcard featured above depicts a walk a winter walk to the Mission Church. The caption on the back reads:

“Christ Church, Shaftsbury Peace River, 1906. Old Nookom over 90 and walk every Sunday to Church 5 mile. Many years ago when going to church, she was met by a bear. Nookom climbed up a tree & the bear climbed up after her as far as he could & chewed her heel off. I have seen her foot. Every after she always carried a knife in her belt.”

This is a wonderful local story, possibly written by Jessie Holmes, wife of the minister at Christ Church. It would be more wonderful if we knew who “Nookom” was. If you have any idea who this woman might be, we would love to hear from you.  Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Christ Church Mission. 1906. SPRA 0157.20b (reverse of top image) Part of Jessie & Robert Holmes fonds.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

Our caption describes this photo (SPRA 0032.08.08.1097) as “First Nations Women, ca. 1914. Two First Nations women sitting on the steps of a log cabin.” This photo is a part of the Campbell family fonds.  Isabel Campbell made numerous contributions to preserving the history of the Peace Country, including photographs like this one which document Indigenous people of the region.

Do you recognize the women in this photo? Photographs that are left blank or without complete information creates a gap in our local history that we would love to fill.  If you have any stories to share about Indigenous women in the area, where this photo may have been taken, or who these women are, we would love to hear it! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

Our caption describes the image above (SPRA 002.01.06.23) as the wives and children of the Metis threshing crew at Tom Sheehan’s farm near Clairmont. Three women are identified by name: Louise Webber, Mrs. Dave Capot and Mrs. Dan McLean. According to the notes, the traditional moss bags the babies are wrapped in took the place of diapers.

Perhaps you know something about the cultural identity of these women and children. Our records often refer to individuals and families of mixed ancestry as Metis, including families of mixed Cree and Iroquois ancestry. We need to correct these entries to show respect for peoples chosen and hereditary cultural identities. In this example, one member of our committee has pointed out that both Mrs McLean and Mrs Kappo both were registered Indians who adhered to Treaty at Sturgeon Lake making them registered “Indians” under the Indian Act. This means, the title for this image should be amended to read “Indigenous Wives and Children.”

If you recognize these people or know some of these families, we’d love to hear from you. Maybe you have stories about Indigenous farm labour, Indigenous women’s labour, or the use and creation of moss bags.

If you have any stories to share related to this photograph, please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.