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

Photograph: First Dominion Day Celebration On Grande Prairie. 1910. SPRA 0001-2001.01.102 Part of Pioneer Museum Society of Grande Prairie and District 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 original caption for this image reads, “Aboriginal Teepees and Metis Tents at Saskatoon Lake for the first Dominion Day Celebrations on the Grande Prairie.” The journals and diaries of early white settlers to the region often mention regular and positive relationships and interactions with all the Indigenous communities already in place. Some of those interactions include trading, labour, guiding, and fun events such as the Dominion Day celebration depicted. While we have a number of records and holdings that document white settler experience of fun, we have very little evidence of the Indigenous experience of fun during the early days of white settlement. What were their special cultural events, sports, and entertainment?

If you have any records of stories you would like to share about any aspect of Indigenous history in the region,  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

Hudson’s Bay Buildings, Fort St. John, [ca. 1949]. SPRA 032.08.08.0945 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 are sharing some of these images and documents.

The original caption on the back of the photograph states: “Two of the old Hudson Bay Co’s Buildings on the Peace River – Old Fort St John. There were originally 3 b’l’dg’s – One was burned a few years ago. It was the store house that was burned. No 1. was the store where articles were exchanged for furs etc. with Indians who came in canoes on Peace River. N 2. was the Court House The little room at the End was the jail. The Factor was also in charge. Many thrilling events occurred here.”

Ft. St. John, demolished shortly after this photograph was taken, was the unlikely home of two Ft. Dunvegan fur trade ledgers discovered by a Canadian engineer on the Alaska Highway crew. Originally created to document the business of the fort, these two ledgers contain information about some of the Indigenous families living and trading in the region in the early to mid-1800s. Like many of the documents and photographs preserved in the SPRA, the ledgers have taken on an informational life beyond their original creator’s intent.

If you have any stories you would like to share, or questions you want to ask about your family’s ties to the fur trade, 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: Cree Family Guides, 1935. SPRA 177.070 Part of Ann Macklin 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.

This photo (SPRA 177.070) is captioned “Two Cree families accompanied us on our trip. They killed our meat–moose, deer, bear, porcupine and skunk–and picked cranberries and blueberries for us. They pitched our tents and packed our horses. Last, but not least they were our guides.” This photo is part of the Ann Macklin fonds; Ann Macklin (nee Roberts) was born at the Kathryn Prittie Hospital and grew up on her parents homestead in the Clairmont area. Ann Roberts, Violet Jebb, and Mr. Bredin took a trip to Nose Mountain in September 1935 and had two Cree families join them as their guides.  The guides in these photos are not identified.

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

Jim Ferguson. 1940. SPRA 0179.04.03 Part of Mary Belcourt Davis fonds (cropped)

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.

“Jim Ferguson, son of St. Pierre Ferguson and Philomene Callihoo, served in World War II along with his brothers Malcolm and Henry.” Jim was one of the over 3,000 Indigenous people who served during the war. We know only a few of the stories of our South Peace Veterans, and fewer still for Indigenous veterans.

If you have any stories you would like to share about your service, or the service of family members, 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: Sturgeon Lake Café, N.D. SPRA 0175.084.04 Part of Valleyview & District Chamber of Commerce Millennium Photograph collection

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 0175.084.04) is from the Valleyview & District Chamber of Commerce Millennium Photograph collection; the photographs were gathered by Mary Ellen MacGregor for the “Journey to the Millenium” collection sponsored by the Valleyview and District Chamber of Commerce.

The photo is captioned “Pierre ?, Bella Badger (Joyce), Teddy Desjarlais, and Pete Joyce in front of the Sturgeon Lake Café, also called Taylor’s.”

If you know who Pierre is, have stories about young Indigenous culture, or Sturgeon Lake Café let us know! 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

Photograph: Buying Fur. 1954. SPRA 0175.021.05 Part of Valleyview & District Chamber of Commerce Millennium Photograph Collection

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 original caption for this photograph reads, “Jim Clark, a clerk of the Sturgeon Lake Hudson’s Bay Store, buying fur from Francis Moostoos in 1954.” The fur trade often is considered a part of our distant past but this photograph provides evidence of its importance to local communities well into the modern age.

While fur trade records often provide tantalizing clues about the lives of the Indigenous peoples, the evidence comes from a settler perspective. What furs are trading hands? How important was fur trading to his economic and cultural life? Was he satisfied with this economic relationship? These are questions we cannot answer from this image.

If you have any stories, documents, or photographs that that document the history of the local fur trade from an Indigenous perspective, 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: July 1st Sports Day, ca. 1910. SPRA 0056.01.003c-2 Part of Harry Tuffill 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.

This photo (SPRA 0056.01.003c-2) is captioned “Indians Racing, July 1st 1910” at Saskatoon Lake Sports Day.” This photo is part of the Harry Tuffill fonds; it was taken by Harry Tuffill while he was in the Peace Country with Walter McFarlane’s survey crew.  Our records do not identify the people in this photo, so if you may know who they are or have other stories about local Indigenous entertainment 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

Image: Sturgeon Lake. 1911. SPRA 0032.08.08.1008 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 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 government keeps documentary evidence related to its ongoing relationship with Indigenous peoples and communities. So too, the people in the communities. The caption for this photograph reads, “John Stocks (left), first Deputy Minister of Public Works, and A. H. McQuarrie (tallest man in centre) with several First Nations men and children at Sturgeon Lake.”

This seems like an important moment for this community and yet we have no idea who these community members were. Were they the leaders of the community? What is the event the photograph is documenting? When did this event occur? Having an answer to any of these questions might provide evidence that lead us to answers for the rest.

Like most archives in Canada, the story of the relationship between the government and Indigenous peoples tends to be one-sided. We are hoping to bring more balance to that story at the local level. If you have any stories that might shed some light on this photograph, please let us know. If you have any documents, photographs, or stories that document the history of the relationship of Indigenous peoples with government officials in the South Peace region, 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: 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.