Salesmen Suggest Testing Tanks on Muddy Peace Country Roads

View down the four tracked Mercer Hill road to Clairmont with power lines alongside, 1928

View down the four tracked Mercer Hill road to Clairmont with power lines alongside, 1928

“Any tank that can travel on the Peace River highways after heavy rains can do anything but fly”  was the consensus of a meeting held by commercial travelers in the Donald Hotel.   I am guessing that this was a pretty informal meeting, probably held in the ‘beverage rooms’ of the hotel.  Nonetheless,  the road situation was serious, and another article on the same page suggested urgent action to get the government to deal with the need to gravel the roads.    This item addresses the perceived  lack of interest in this area by the government – “this country is treated as an appendage rather than an integral part of the province.”

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 4, 1941

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 4, 1941

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 4, 1941

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 4, 1941

“Mark Well the Day”

Title quote from Father Giroux, who came to the Peace Country in 1896

It may be difficult for people here now to imagine what a huge thing it was in 1949 to have a bridge over the Smoky River.  The report says that at least 12 000 people attended the bridge opening in August.  To put this into perspective, the population of Grande Prairie in 1949 was 3700.  The population of the entire MD of Grande Prairie in 1946 was 9505, and the MD of Spirit River was 1404.  This means pretty much everybody in the country was at the Smoky for the celebrations!  There were more than 60 floats in the parade, each of which featured some episode of the days of the trail, and many oldtimers rode in the parade, including Father Giroux, who was over 80.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

A Partially Solved Mystery: Can You Help?

Standing, L-R: Mrs. Pring, George Pring, ? , ? , Grace Pring, Allan Mortensen, Hazel Medlock, Myland Mitchell Front: all unknown

Standing, L-R: Mrs. Pring, George Pring, ? , ? , Grace Pring, Allan Mortensen, Hazel Medlock, Myland Mitchell
Front: all unknown

When I was going through my mother’s pictures, I found some negatives of what looked like a wedding.  I had them developed, but could only identify my mother, Hazel Medlock.  The Archives staff weren’t able to help either, so the pictures were put away.  Recently I was going through the paper in my ongoing search for blog items and was so excited to find the write up of the wedding in Mom’s pictures.  From that, we could identify the bride and groom, her attendant (my mother) and best man.  Mary’s visit to Spirit River recently identified the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Pring (on the left).  That leaves five people to go!  If anyone could help complete this, we’d be very thankful.

Written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ August 18, 1938

Grande Prairie Herald ~ August 18, 1938

 

Cowboy Rebellion

Donald’s Round-Up, which featured a horse show, races, chariot and chuckwagon races, horse pulling, and baseball looks to have been a huge success, but was “slightly marred” by what was thought to be the first sit down strike in Alberta.  The bronco and steer riders appear to have demanded day money in addition to the prizes as advertised, and staged the strike.  The solution was sharp and swift – the events were canceled.  Later, $1 was given to each of forty boys who would come out of the chutes riding the steers, likely the prize money.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ August 20, 1937

Grande Prairie Herald ~ August 20, 1937

Beware the Fair

View from the ferris wheel of the midway and rides at the County Fairgrounds during the 1978 Stompede.

View from the ferris wheel of the midway and rides at the County Fairgrounds during the 1978 Stompede.

In 1938, the Weekly Line-up column warned locals about getting taken in when playing games of chance at the fairs. I’m pretty sure that this practice still exists at fairs and midways as always, but also made the leap to new technology, where people online act as shills in public forums and other places.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

 

July 21, 1938 - blog2

DHT July 21, 1938

DHT - July 21, 1938

DHT – July 21, 1938

Making the Grade

The condition of roads in town has been an ongoing problem, as this item from 1917 shows.  One of the town councilors decided to do something about the situation, and it appears he was very successful, improving the roads and saving the village hundreds of dollars in the process.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ July 17, 1917

Grande Prairie Herald ~ July 17, 1917

Not Your Usual Saturday Night Fights

Haina Kirstien, winner in the 185 lb. novice class of the Provincial Amateur Boxing Championships held in Grande Prairie March 18, 1950.

Haina Kirstien, winner in the 185 lb. novice class of the Provincial Amateur Boxing Championships held in Grande Prairie March 18, 1950.

There are many articles about boxing matches in the old papers, and I usually just skip them.  I started reading this one and right at the start was intrigued by the idea of a band playing between the bouts.  I also found the idea of a match between a wrestler and a boxer, each following the rules of his own sport, quite fascinating.  Overall, it seemed like a pretty good day of entertainment at the First of July sports.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Northern Tribune ~ July 7, 1932

Northern Tribune ~ July 7, 1932

Remembering the Somme

In addition to being Canada Day, July 1, 2016 marks one hundred years since the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.  The battle, which lasted more than four months, is one of the bloodiest in military history – more than one million men were killed or wounded.

To commemorate this anniversary, here are the stories of two Grande Prairie men who fought at the Somme.

Gordon Belcourt

Gordon was born in Lac St. Anne to Magloire and Constance Letendre, some of the early Metis settlers to this area. Gordon signed up for WWI from Lake Saskatoon on July 17, 1915, at the time he owned land on the outskirts of Flying Shot Lake. He joined the 49th Regiment and left for France in April of 1916. At the time of enlistment he is listed as 23 years old standing 5 feet 7 inches tall. On Sept 28, 1915 he put in a request to be transferred from the 9th Reserve Battalion to the 49th. Gordon was wounded in June 1916 (shell or shrapnel wounds to his left side and leg) at the Battle of Mount Sorrel, which was a prelude to the Somme offensive. He was transported to the 3rd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station hospital where he died on June 4, 1916 from the wounds he received. Gordon is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium.

Archibald Setter

Archie was born in Battleford, Saskatchewan and homesteaded near Spirit River.  A rumor had reached Grande Prairie that he had deserted, but a letter written to William Taft and printed in the Grande Prairie newspaper on February 20, 1917 told the truth:

Northumberland War Hospital

Dear Friend,

 I suppose you will be quite surprised to hear from me; however, as I am living in my bed at the above hospital I thought I would write you a few lines. We arrived in Liverpool on the 7th May 1916 and there went to a place called St. Martain’s Plains and from there I was drafted in to the 8th Bttn. and went to France in June. I was in the battle of Ypres in June and also was at the Somme when I got hit in the left ankle, and I have finally lost my left foot, it is cut off about 5 inches above the ankle, so my chances are pretty good for getting back to Canada once more. Well Bill, you people have no idea of the war, but I can tell you that it is simple hell.

…I suppose Grande Prairie is a big place now since the railroad is there….

Dean Hodgins was in the same Bttn. as me, I wrote to him a few times since I got wounded, but I have got no answer so I don’t know what has happened to him.

My leg is not quite healed yet but I am improving greatly. I think it will be some time yet before I will be able to use an artificial limb.

Well, Bill, this will be all for this time and if you don’t answer this letter please tell Mr. Rae that I want some papers.

I remain your friend,

Pte. A. Setter

No. 101051 No. 5 Ward, 8th Canadians

It was later reported in the Grande Prairie paper that Archibald came back to Canada and was working as a postmaster in Saskatchewan.

View Archie’s letter here

These are only two of many soldiers who saw action at the Somme.  A casualty list in the October 3, 1916 paper shows that nine more were wounded, and two killed – and that was only one list in a four month battle.  The casualties included:

George Perry Peebles (wounded)
William Bousfield (wounded)
Edgar Hudson (wounded)
Harold A. Wellwood (wounded)
Donald M. Innes (wounded)
Arthur Doubleday (wounded)
Clement Gawler Mead (wounded)
Wesley Harper (wounded)
Charles William Alfred Herbert (wounded)
Reid Crossley Watson (killed)
John Pringle (killed)

To find out more about the soldiers of the South Peace, visit our memorial page.

100th Anniversary of the Rio Grande Rodeo

The Rio Grande Store and Post Office and its small cluster of buildings and houses made up the east half of the community of Rio Grande. Across the road was St. Patrick's Catholic Church and Rectory and the Rio Grande Hall, ca. 1930

The Rio Grande Store and Post Office and its small cluster of buildings and houses made up the east half of the community of Rio Grande. Across the road was St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Rectory and the Rio Grande Hall, ca. 1930

I found this ad for tenders for booths at the Rio Grande Rodeo in the June 14, 1929 newspaper, and thought it was a bit of a different look at the planning that went into this event.  There is an excellent history of the Rio Grande Rodeo on their website.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 14, 1929

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 14, 1929

Summer Resort of the North

Our blog in July 2014 printed an article from 1925 that said “Sturgeon Lake, with a good road to it, could never be prevented from becoming the most popular place in the north country during the summer months.”  Well, eight years later in 1933 there must have been a road, as there were amenities galore.  You could rent a rowboat, motorboat, or cottage, eat in a restaurant, dance in the pavilion, shoot the Chutes, and get your hair done!

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ June 20, 1933