In 1919, Marion Little Prentiss arrived in the Peace River Country with his father-in-law George Sheer, intending to purchase a general store. Instead, they bought a section of land by Bear Lake (S.W. 15-72-7-W6) from Fred Roberts, complete with horses, machinery and household furnishings. After the purchase, the rest of the family (which included Nancy Sheer, Mary Sheer Prentiss and child Mack Prentiss) came from the Vancouver area where Marion had been operating a lumber camp on Vancouver Island, and his wife Mary had driven taxi for a time.
Mack Prentiss, their only son, started school at Hermit Lake in 1923. That same year, Marion had an auction and sold everything but the land. From 1923 to 1928, the family spent some time in Burns Lake and then Vancouver, but eventually returned to the farm, this time with modern power equipment. This included a gas 30 Caterpillar Tractor and Holt Combine which were reputed to be the first machines of this type northwest of Edmonton. At the time, Mack was 11 years old. Marion retired to Edmonton in 1944 and rented the family farm to Mack.
In October 1945, Mack married Jean Kathleen Asp from Wetaskiwin. Jean was born in Camrose in 1921 and had trained as a nurse at the Misericordia in Edmonton before her marriage to Mack. They had four children: Marion Jean, William Harding, Carolyn, and Bette. Mack and Jean farmed the family land for many years before retiring to Edmonton in 1988. Mack died in 2005, followed by Jean in 2008.
The collection was donated to Grande Prairie Regional Archives by Mack Prentiss, son of Marion Prentiss and Mary Sheer, in 2003. An accrual of Prentiss family records was donated in 2010 by Mack’s daughter Marion Hoveland.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of a computer disc containing 86 images of the Prentiss and Sheer family, their farm on the shore of Bear Lake, Mack’s activities as a child on the farm, workers and farm activities throughout the seasons, and a few scenes of Grande Prairie. Most of the photographs on the disc have descriptive captions or accompanying notes identifying the people, places and events. There are also 7 photographs relating to the personal life of the Prentiss Family, including Hermit Lake School students, a photograph of Marion and Mack Prentiss, and an aerial photograph of the farm; and some newspaper clippings, mainly from Grande Prairie papers, relating to the Prentiss family and their activities. Topics include agriculture, family and personal life/biography, curling, education and student activities, Job’s Daughters, Masons, and the Grande Prairie Museum.
Title based on the contents of the series.
Prentiss Family Photo CD, 1918-1928 86 images, studio photo; b & w; CD, 5 x 7 The computer disc contains digitized images, taken from old slides and photographs, of Mack Prentiss as a child, his parents and grandparents and the family farm on the shores of Bear Lake. Included are Mack’s activities as a child, scenes of horses, animals and poultry on the farm, photos of people such as threshing crews and neighbours, pictures of the extensive gardens, and agricultural activities such as harvesting. Location: 2003.087.01
Canadian Bank of Commerce, Lake Saskatoon, 1920 c. 1 photograph; b & w; 2 x 4 Nancy Greer and Mack Prentiss in front of the Canadian Bank of Commerce on the main street of Lake Saskatoon. On the back it says, “Main street at the post. To right is the undertaker’s and livery combined. It too is the all night gambling joint. The bank is the best building in town. The hardware store is upstairs in it. The mud and slop a foot deep in streets but don’t show.” Location: 2003.087.02
Dunvegan Crossing, 1915 c. 1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5 Car going down the south hill at Dunvegan to take the ferry over the Peace River. Note on back says, “For your antique room. We began blowing the horn at the first bend in the road to hold the ferry.” Location: 2003.087.03
Northern Winter Carnival, 1928 1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5 Harnessed dogs attached to toboggan stretched across Richmond Avenue, with Northern Winter Carnival banner in the distance. On the back it says, “First dog team Mack has ever ridden behind. The store with dot over it is Morrison’s new one. It is brick veneer and very nice. I guess you recognize everything else except the trees. They are just stuck in ice for decorations. The arch for same purpose.” Location: 2003.087.04
Dominion Day Parade, 1925 c. 1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5 Cars and buildings are decorated with flags for the Dominion Day Parade down Richmong Avenue. Location: 2003.087.05
Grande Prairie, Alberta, 1918 c. 1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5 View of Grande Prairie from the west, with the road marked in pencil. On the back of the card it says, “Explain to Op how we get us to town and where main part is marked.” Location: 2003.087.06
Grande Prairie, Alberta, 1920 c. 1 postcard; b & w; 3 x 5 in. View of Grande Prairie from the west after the installation of telegraph lines along Richmond Avenue. Location: 2003.087.07
Mack’s Combine, 1929 1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5 Holt combine pulled by a caterpiller on the farm of Mack Prentiss on the south-west shore of Bear Lake. Location: 2004.68.01
Stock Car Racing, 1940 c. 1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 5 Stock Car Race Track with carslining up and a platform of officials looking on Location: 2004.68.02
Hermit Lake School Students 1955, 1955 2 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 Hermit Lake School students of 1955-56 Location: 2004.68.03 A-B
Hermit Lake School Students 1954, 1954 1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6 Hermit Lake School students of 1954, May Blum, teacher. Location: 2004.68.04
Marion and Mack Prentiss, 1934 1 photograph; b & w; 5 x 7 in. A photograph of Marion and his son Mack Prentiss taken at Christmas, 1934. Location: 2010.38.01
Prentiss Family Farm, [ca. 1953] 1 photograph; colour; 16 x 20 in. An aerial photograph of the Prentiss family farm on the shores of Bear Lake (SW 15-72-7 W6). Location: 2010.38.02
Main Street Grande Prairie, [ca. 1945] 1 postcard; b & w; 3.5 x 5.5 in. A view of Richmond Avenue (100th Avenue) looking East and showing the south side of the street with stores including M. F. Wood Battery, Electrical Repair Service, Birds Store, Hook’s Jeweler, the Murray Hotel, and a grain elevator. Location: 2010.38.03
Grande Prairie Airport, [ca. 1950] 1 postcard; b & w; 3.5 x 5.5 in. A view of the control tower and main building at the Grande Prairie Airport from the tarmac. A Canadian Pacific plane is parked outside. According to the caption on the back of the postcard, “Important stop on the aerial route to the Yukon and Alaska is Grande Prairie’s $3,000,000 airport, operated by the Department of Transport.” Location: 2010.38.04
St. Paul’s United Church, [ca. 1950] 1 postcard; b & w; 3.5 x 5.5 in. A view of St. Paul’s United Church in Grande Prairie, built 1925-1926. Location: 2010.38.05
Richmond Hill Golf Club, [ca. 1945] 1 postcard; b & w; 3.5 x 5.5 in. A view of the clubhouse at the Richmond Hill Golf Club at Grande Prairie. Location: 2010.38.06
Overlooking Bear Lake, [ca. 1945] 1 postcard; b & w; 3.5 x 5.5 in. A view of Bear Lake and surrounding farmland, near Grande Prairie. Location: 2010.38.07
Richmond Hill, [ca. 1945] 1 postcard; b & w; 3.5 x 5.5 in. A view looking down the road (Richmond or 100th Avenue) from Grande Prairie to Richmond Hill. Location: 2010.38.08
Overlooking Bear Creek, [ca. 1945] 1 postcard; b & w; 3.5 x 5.5 in. A view of the residences and businesses overlooking Bear Creek in the town of Grande Prairie. Location: 2010.38.09