Movie Monday: The Edson Trail

Image: A photograph of an Edson Trail caboose, taken from the featured film (SPRA 0001.10.01.17a-b, Fonds 001: Pioneer Museum Society of Grande Prairie & District fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Welcome back to Movie Monday! Today’s featured video was created by the Grande Prairie Museum in 1994 with the purpose of educating our community about the Edson Trail – a critical part of our local history. It includes portions narrated by children, which makes it an excellent resource for the classroom.

The Edson Trail includes information about the building of the trail, the towns of Edson and Grande Prairie, preparation for the journey, day to day life on the trail, and methods of travel used by early pioneers. Letters and journal entries are read by various narrators, giving the viewer a deeper sense of stepping into the past and understanding the history from the perspective of those who experienced it.

Before the Edson Trail opened in 1911, pioneers travelled to Grande Prairie via what was known as the Long Trail, which was 800km in length; the Edson Trail was only 250km. But even with the distance greatly reduced, the journey often took months to complete. Most people travelled in what was referred to as a caboose: a covered wagon about 6 feet wide and 13 feet long, with a wooden floor and walls made of wood and canvas. Inside the caboose were beds, a wood stove, and supplies. Homesteaders often packed enough supplies to last a year – the amount of time they expected it to take to become settled and bring in their first harvest.

The journey was an arduous one, but the plentiful land (priced at $10 for 160 acres) was worth the risk for the men, women, and children who braved the trail.

We hope you enjoy this fascinating documentary!

Movie Monday: Riverboating

Image: A film still showing three men in a boat (SPRA 253.01.03, Fonds 253: Jerry Stojan family fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

It’s Movie Monday! Today we are passengers on a riverboating expedition. Jerry Stojan was an avid outdoorsman and so this film gives us an excellent look at how he spent much of his time. This particular riverboat excursion could have been part of a hunting or fishing trip, but is more likely to have been a leisurely outing, as it was filmed circa 1954, before Jerry became a guide.

The name and location of the river are not recorded, but mountains – presumably the Rocky Mountains – can be seen at various points in the film. The river’s increasing proximity to the base of a mountain, and the fact that several rest stops are depicted, indicates that this may have been a lengthy journey. An Indigenous family is shown offering hospitality to the men along the way.

Wildlife is seen along the shores, as are horses grazing tranquilly in the meadows. The presence of young foals with their mothers proves almost certainly that this film was taken in spring or early summer.

Movie Monday: Miscellaneous Activities

Image: A film still showing some puppies (SPRA 1974.74.22N, Fonds 138: Griff James fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Today’s Movie Monday features a second film from the Griff James fond. This film was taken circa 1965 and includes footage of a man and woman playing with puppies, riverboating (and the loading of a boat), a cabin being built, races at Wapiti Ski Hill, and fishing.

Griff James recorded many of his activities and interests on 16mm film. This type of film was introduced with the Eastman Kodak Company’s amateur movie camera, the Cine-Kodak, in 1923. The camera was bulky, boxy, and cranked by hand, but it made filmmaking accessible to hobbyists and professionals alike. What made the Cine-Kodak special was perhaps not the camera itself, but the width of the film it employed. Rather than the usual 35mm film (which was alarmingly flammable), it used 16mm film made of noncombustible plastic. Amateur filmmaking flourished, and 16mm film continued to be widely used by hobbyists until the 1940’s. At this point, professionals still preferred the 16mm film, but amateurs were turning to the less expensive and more portable 8mm film.

The invention of 16mm film, and subsequently 8mm film, changed the way memories were preserved. Together with journals, letters, and photographs, home movies became a way of documenting both the ordinary and extraordinary moments in the life of a family or individual. Today, these film collections are a treasure trove for archivists, researchers, and history enthusiasts!

Movie Monday: Family Growing Up (Part 2)

Image: A film still showing the Foster children in front of their home (SPRA 449.01.04, Fonds 449: Foster Family fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Welcome back to Movie Monday! Today we are revisiting the Foster family. We first met the Fosters in September, in a film also entitled “Family Growing Up”. The first film was taken between 1950-1956 and focused largely on the activities of the children; today’s film continues the documentation of the children’s growing years, taking place between 1957-1965.

It is quite unique to see home movies that tell such a comprehensive and cohesive story. Over the course of these two films, we see the Foster children grow from toddlers to teenagers, and see the family itself grow from a family of five to a family of six. The film contains footage of innumerable activities. A few special events such as birthdays and vacations are shown, but in large part the film focuses on simple, everyday happenings – from rowing and swimming, to walking on stilts and playing dress-up. The children’s antics are amusing and heartwarming, and the films are an excellent memento not only for the Foster family, but for anyone who wishes to slow down for a few moments and remember the simplicity and sincerity of childhood.

It is films such as this one – and many others in our collection – that enable the Archives to preserve a more complete history of the South Peace. Our goal is not only to remember the significant events that feature in history books, but to tell the stories of the individuals and families who are the South Peace.

Movie Monday: Brigadoon

Image: A film still showing a scene from Brigadoon (SPRA 0477.04.03.01, Fonds 477: Eaglesham and District Drama Club fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

This week’s video features an excerpt from a 1985 musical entitled Brigadoon, produced by Grande Prairie Little Theatre. Brigadoon first appeared on Broadway in 1947, telling the story of two American tourists who visited Scotland and discovered the mystifying village of Brigadoon – a village that only appeared for one day out of every one hundred years.

The Grande Prairie Little Theatre was formed in 1963 when the Grande Prairie Players and the Operatic Society joined forces. However, this was not the beginning of live theatre in Grande Prairie. In the early 1930’s, a variety of musical and theatre groups were active in the community. Many of these groups were disbanded during the Second World War, but even then, churches would put on shows for the community to lift their spirits.

The Grande Prairie Players were formed in 1958, five years before merging with the Operatic Society. Since 2001, the Grande Prairie Little Theatre has been known as the Grande Prairie Live Theatre.

Movie Monday: Murray River

Image: A film still showing a man enjoying the cold outdoors (SPRA 1974.74.22L, Fonds 138: Griff James fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Welcome back to Movie Monday! Today we are featuring the first of seven films from the Griff James fonds. This particular video features various outdoor activities such as hunting, off-roading, flying planes, swimming, fishing, and boating – at least some of which presumably took place at Murray River. The film was taken in 1955.

As the content of this film indicates, Griff James loved the outdoors. He was born on April 27, 1914 in Fort George, British Columbia. His father, G. A. James, became Grande Prairie’s first elected mayor after the family moved here in 1918. In 1928, Griff’s father – who was also a druggist – sold his pharmacy and took up farming instead. But Griff graduated from the University of Alberta as a pharmacist and opened his own pharmacy in Grande Prairie in 1940. Griff married Cora and together they had five children. After many years of serving the community and enjoying all that the Peace Country had to offer, Griff moved to Qualicum Beach in 1988 and died there in 1996.

Be sure to follow along with Movie Monday so that you don’t miss the remainder of Griff James’ films!

Movie Monday: Wedding

Image: A film still showing a bride and groom’s exit following their wedding ceremony (SPRA 253.01.02, Fonds 253: Jerry Stojan family fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

The wedding season of 2020 has passed us by, but we thought perhaps you would still enjoy this footage from a wedding that took place ca. 1961. This film is part of the Jerry Stojan family fonds and was possibly filmed by Jerry himself, but unfortunately we do not have record of whose wedding it portrays.

As with most weddings, the fashion trends of the time would have played a key role in the bride’s choices regarding her attire and that of her bridesmaids. The bridal gown seen in the film is in keeping with some of the more popular styles of the day: it features a lace or sheer bodice and collar and is accompanied by a long veil, such as was worn by Grace Kelly in 1956. Pastel blue, yellow, and pink were the favoured colours for décor and bridesmaids dresses, and fascinators with veils (also known as cocktail hats) were commonly worn by the ladies of the wedding entourage.

The film shows the bride and groom exiting the building after the ceremony, and also includes shots from the reception. As the scenes from the reception will show, filming indoors with an 8mm camera was at times difficult and the results were often overly dark; that may be one of the reasons why the wedding ceremony was not filmed.

We hope you enjoy the video and have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Movie Monday: Lumber Mill Work

Image: A film still showing Miles Marcy’s truck being loaded (SPRA 198.02.07, Fonds 198: Ward-Marcy family fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Throughout our Movie Monday series, you will become acquainted with a number of families from the South Peace Region. Today we introduce to you the Ward-Marcy family. Miles Marcy and Marion Ward were born in Grande Prairie and Sexsmith, respectively. They were married on December 17, 1946 and had five children.

After their marriage, Miles discovered that he loved the trucking industry and soon acquired a gravel truck, a loader, a Cat, and a sand screener. He owned two quarter sections of land near Kleskun Lake that contained sand pits, and so he began hauling gravel. He also worked for Jack Mackie’s concrete business, and in the winter, hauled lumber.

The film below shows various scenes from around a lumber mill (ca. 1960), but focuses especially on Miles Marcy’s truck being loaded with lumber.

We will be seeing more of the Ward-Marcy family later on, so stay tuned!

Movie Monday: Riverboating and a Trip to the Mountains

Image: A film still showing the preparation stage of a riverboating trip (SPRA 253.01.08, Fonds 253: Jerry Stojan family fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Today’s Movie Monday is an introduction to the Stojan family. Louis and Bessie Stojan came to Grande Prairie from Czechoslovakia in 1926, bringing with them their four young sons – Louis Jr., Charlie, Jerry, and Frank. Louis Sr. worked at Thompson Motors for three years before moving the family to a homestead near Goodfare. After six years, they returned to Grande Prairie where he opened his own service garage. In 1939, the family moved to Ontario, but following the Second World War, sons Charlie and Jerry returned to the South Peace. They settled in Sexsmith and bought the Sexsmith Garage, following in the footsteps of their father.

Charlie eventually took over the garage, while Jerry became involved in a number of outdoor pursuits, such as raising quarter horses and becoming a big game guide. The Jerry Stojan family fonds includes many 8mm films that depict the outdoor activities of the Stojan family; several of them will be highlighted in the Movie Monday series.

Today’s film features a riverboating trip undertaken ca. 1956, likely by Jerry Stojan and family members or friends, though our records do not identify the people in this film. Later in the film, we are treated to mountain views, which may have been a part of the riverboating trip, or were perhaps part of a later expedition.

Keep following along with Movie Monday to see more of the Stojans’ adventures!

Movie Monday: Harvest with Hand Implements

Image: A film still showing a demonstration of harvesting with hand implements (SPRA 0001.10.02.02, Fonds 001: Pioneer Museum Society of Grande Prairie & District fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Today’s featured video was created in 1996 by Harry Lehners and Steve Evanchuk with the purpose of demonstrating how harvesting was done by hand before the introduction of machines. As Mr. Lehners says in the video, harvesting machines brought about “the end of an era”.

Most early settlers in Alberta were of European descent, and those who had been farmers in their homelands brought along their native tools. In this video, we see tools from countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria. Harry explains the differences between these European tools and their American counterparts, and also describes the variations of tools used for different types of crops.

With the implements shown in this video, approximately one acre of grain could be cut in a day, and two acres could be tied in the same amount of time. Often, two men would operate scythes while a woman would follow behind, tying the felled grain in bundles. Harry shares an extraordinary story of a woman near Bear Lake who, in the 1910’s, cut four acres by hand while her husband was working with a threshing crew in southern Alberta. When her husband returned, he threshed the grain she had cut “and then he sold it in Clairmont for No. 1 Northern. Farming most certainly was – and still is – a team effort.