Bagnall family fonds. — 1912. — .5 cm of textual records.
Herbert Bagnall was born in Prince Edward Island on December 3, 1880. His wife, Lucy (Lowe) Bagnall was born in Nova Scotia on December 10, 1882. They both graduated from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and Herbert went on to complete his training in Boston. After they were married, on September 8, 1909, they served at the Heath Baptist Church in Calgary. In 1912, they were asked by Rev. Colin McLaurin, in charge of Baptist missions in Alberta, to go up to the Peace River country to open a church and farm in a Baptist community.
Herbert and Lucy set out for the Peace Country in May 1912, traveling in a “Prairie Schooner”, a wagon with a canvas top. In it was a spring and mattress, a small stove, a rocking chair, a telescope organ, their clothing trunk, a .22 rifle, a keg of nails, and enough food for 6 months. They took the wagon with a team of horses up from Okotoks to Athabasca Landing and over the Long Trail to Grouard, where they left most of their load while they decided where the church should be established. At Waterhole, they met with a Baptist homesteader, D.M. Kennedy, and together went on to the Grande Prairie district.
Finding a number of Baptist settlers near Saskatoon Lake, the Bagnalls decided to start there. The first Sunday service was at the home of the Cranstons, where they were joined by the Van Schaick family, and the Roberts. The Bagnalls filed on the NE 5-72-7-W6th, east of Lake Saskatoon, and prepared to homestead. They built an 18 x 23 ft. log cabin with sod roof, lumber door and floor, and two windows. Herbert then returned to Edmonton for more supplies, two yoke of oxen, a piano and building material for the church. He returned with Frank Lowe, Lucy’s brother, who came up to help with the farm work. In May 1913, Lucy had their second child, a son Herbert. Their first child, born September 26, 1911, died as an infant.
In the winter of 1912-1913 Bill Sharp and Rev. Bagnall took out logs to build a church and a second house. The church was built by volunteer labour at Hermit Lake, about three miles from the Bagnall homestead. The congregation included a choir of men including Bill and Alf Field, Wilfred Trimming, the McLevin brothers, and G. Cranston. There was also a Baptist Ladies’ Aid of eight members and an active Sunday School. Under the leadership of the Bagnalls, a Baptist Church was also built at Deep Creek, east of Grande Prairie, in 1915; and another in Clairmont in 1916. This church included a manse where the Bagnalls lived in 1916.
The Bagnalls were supported by the Baptist (Missions?) Board at $100 per month until June 1916. In the summer of 1915, they had travelled about 1000 miles in their buckboard with their two-year-old son campaigning for the temperance vote, and were gratified to have the Peace River district vote for temperance in 1916. When the Baptist Board was no longer able to provide support, Rev. Bagnall took a position with the Temperance Union, and the family moved first to Nelson, then to Medicine Hat. In 1916, their second child, Marjorie, was born.
In 1920 Herbert Bagnall was killed in an automobile accident. Lucy and the children moved back to Calgary where she went back to teaching high school and writing curriculum texts, including one called “Contemporary Problems, National, Imperial and International.”
This copy of Dr. Lucy Bagnall’s diary was deposited by Dr. Irene Nicolson in 2015, at the request of Mr. Douglas Van Schaick. It is a copy of the interview and diary transcribed by Margaret and Isabel Loggie in the completion of the Peace River Country Research Project for the Glenbow Museum in 1955-1956.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of two pages of biography written by the Loggie sisters when they interviewed Dr. Lucy Bagnall in 1955; and a copy of the diary kept by Lucy on a daily basis from May 19 to December 15, 1912. It gives an account of their journey north from Calgary to Grande Prairie, and the first months of their life in the Grande Prairie district. Much of the diary is about building the house; everyday activities such as cooking, washing, and getting food; breaking land, threshing, and haying; church services, with topics and attendees; books that Lucy is reading; and visiting with the neighbours. Dr. Bagnall mentions names such as Appleton, Cranston, Braybrook, Lister, Roberts, Canon Smith, Sharpe, Anderson, McLevin, Trimming, Campbell, Lyster, Parker, Higbee, Meade and Grant, Van Schaick, Moxhay, Forbes, Bredin, Powell, Bousfield, South, Perraton, Matheson, Carter, Ray, Patterson, McAusland, Johnson, Blake, Norley, Hunskor, Hendry, Ryley, Ferguson, and Kennedy.
Acquisition note: Accession No. 2015.008
Related records: Van Schaick family history in the biography files.
Other formats: digitized diary online at www.southpeacearchives.org; other copies in Beth Sheehan fonds 002 at SPRA, and in biography files.