The Sawdust Fusiliers: Veterans of the Canadian Forestry Corps

Image: William J. Noll on horseback leaving to join the Canadian Forestry Corps, 1917 (SPRA 2014.061.014c)

The upcoming issue of Telling Our Stories focuses on forests and forestry in the South Peace.  To give you a sneak preview of an article highlighting the Sawdust Fusiliers and the role they played in the First World War, here are the names of some local men who served in the Canadian Forestry Corps.  For biographies of these men, visit the World War I Soldiers Memorial.

Private Andrew Bennett

tripped while on parade in 1916, which led to doctors discovering a cyst on his knee

Private John Blonke

jaw was fractured when he was assaulted by a civilian in Scotland

Private Walter Bowen

was badly gassed in 1917 and also suffered from flat feet, which led to his transfer to the Forestry Corps

Private Leonard Broomfield

served with No. 11 Company in France, where they were engaged in aerodrome construction

Private Fred Burrin

was appointed ‘logcutter’ and given a raise in pay, but reverted to Private at his own request

Captain Robert Campbell

was made second in command of No. 41 Company in August 1918

Private Frederick Chiverton

was transferred to the Forestry Corps due to recurring heart trouble

Sergeant Henry Connery

three of his four sons also joined the army in WWI

Lieutenant Harlie Conrad

enlisted in the RNWMP in 1914 as a way of getting into the army

Private Ernest Constantin

had been hard of hearing since childhood, but condition was worsened by army life

Private Jerry Cronin

had a cataract in his right eye, due to having been struck in the eye with the end of a whip

Private John Cummins

worked as a logger before joining the Forestry Corps

Private Frank Dundas

medical examination states that he was missing the tip of a finger

Private Omer Dupont

while serving in England with the Forestry Corps, he married an Englishwoman

Private Joseph Duszinski

was shot in the arm in May 1916 at Ypres

Private Thomas East

was a widower with eight children when he enlisted

Private William Fair

after being wounded in June 1917, a large piece of shrapnel remained embedded near his shoulder blade for six months

Private Isaac Frazee

his left hand was paralyzed after receiving multiple shrapnel wounds in May 1916

Acting Sergeant Robert Gerow

he and his son both served in the Forestry Corps

Private Robert Gerow

served in France with the Forestry Corps for a short time before falling ill and being sent to hospital in England

Private Henderson Graham

was blind in his right eye, and therefore not fit for active service at the front lines

Sergeant Charles Hastings

due to a mining accident in 1903, one of his legs was shorter than the other

Private John Kneafsey

while in the Forestry Corps, he was thrown off a truck; his clavicle was fractured and he had a concussion, which led to dementia

Private Chester Lowe

was only 15 years old when he enlisted

Private Gordon McCullough

suffered from dementia, likely due to shell shock; died in 1924 as a result of having been gassed during the war

Private Robert McDonald

in January 1918 he was sent to the School of Farmery to receive training for cold shoeing

Private Charles MacGregor

lied about his age by ten years in order to enlist

Private George MacGregor

worked as a cook during his time in the Forestry Corps

Private Henry Moss

after the war, a miscommunication led to his wife and family believing him to be dead, and it was decades before he was reunited with them

Private William Noll

when he left to enlist in 1918, he pinned a poem to his door stating that he would not be returning to the area

Private Lorne Nowry

after serving in the Forestry Corps, he came to Grande Prairie and bought a sawmill

Acting Corporal Jacob Orman

before being transferred to Forestry Corps, he was attached to the Russian Embassy in London

Private Raymond Pellerin

was wounded at Vimy Ridge before being transferred to the Forestry Corps

Private Thomas Rice

when he slipped on ice, his foot became jammed between a log, the carriage, and the skidway

Private Mike Rostalski

was shot in the leg in May 1917, after which he was transferred to the Forestry Corps

Private Herbert Stewart

after being injured at the front lines, he was transferred to the Forestry Corps; in 1918, a log fell from a wagon onto his leg, causing severe damage

Private Peter Stuart

worked as a lumberjack before the war

Private George Tate

injured his shoulder during training and as a result he remained in England with the Forestry Corps for the duration of the war

Private Robert Tilt

dyed his hair in an unsuccessful attempt to look young enough to enlist in World War II

Acting Sergeant Spencer Tuck

was gassed at Ypres in August 1916, losing partial function of his right eye

Bonnets for Easter

The Kentucky Derby hasn’t got anything on these ladies! New clothes for Easter had been a tradition for many families for years. The Just-A-Mere-Ladies Club took that a little bit further with their annual Easter bonnet creations. Seems like something we might to revive.

La Glace Just-A-Mere-Ladies Club group photo featuring their specially made hats. Ladies present include Isabelle Christiansen, Mabel Hagen, Alice Wartenbe, Gloria Cavanough, Glady Maple?, Jean Haakstad

Happy Easter!

We’re sorry to announce that we are closed for Easter Monday. Here’s a little Easter joy to alleviate the inconvenience.

Cards and postcards are wonderful bits of personal correspondence that can shed bits of light on personal history. These two Easter postcards from the Grimm-Vader Family fonds are an example. The first has no correspondence, suggesting good intentions but perhaps a bit of forgetfulness or procrastination on the part of a young man (Ora Grimm). The second was sent to Mr. Ora Grim while he was visiting family in Venus, Nebraska.

“Raven, Nebraska, April 21, 1916

Dear Nephew,

As we got a letter from Ralph telling us you was here from Canada, would be glad to have you Boys both come up or I make up a visit. We are all well. It has been cold and windy now for some time. Drop us a line. With Best Wishes from Aunt Celia & family, Raven, Nebraska, Brown, Co.”

This short piece of correspondence helps us build a picture of an extended family with a foothold in two countries. Luckily, we have more than this to go on for the Grimm-Vader family. Processing for this fonds is nearing completion and will soon be ready for researchers. It includes almost a thousand photographs, postcards, and two extensive family histories.

We are very grateful to Nora and Ray Grimm for sharing their family history with the Archives. It will be a wonderful treasure for years to come.

SPRA’s 2019 Annual General Meeting in Review

On Saturday, March 30, the South Peace Regional Archives board of directors, staff, volunteers, and members of the public gathered for SPRA’s 2019 Annual General Meeting.  Reports from president Jan Shields, executive director Alyssa Currie, and treasurer Gail Prette highlighted the successes, achievements, and challenges of the past year.

Three volunteers received awards to mark milestones they had reached in their work at the archives. (not pictured: Mary Nutting, 250 hours)

Meg Archer has dedicated over 250 to researching and writing biographies for the soldiers on our WWII Soldiers Memorial

Leita Askew has volunteered more than 1500 hours, working on clipping files, newspaper indices, and many other projects.

The Beth Sheehan Award recognizes individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the goals of gathering, preserving, and sharing the history of the South Peace region. Recipients of the award become Honorary Members of the South Peace Regional Archives Society.  This year, the award was presented to Mathew Wozniak and the Beaverlodge Area Cultural Society.

Alyssa Currie presenting the Beth Sheehan Award to Catherine Gabriel of the Beaverlodge Area Cultural Society

In 2018, the Beaverlodge Area Cultural Society donated over 20 boxes of archival materials, amounting to one of the most significant material donations of the year. This donation documents the community and culture of the Beaverlodge area and includes textual records, maps, pamphlets and over 1000 photographs. Shortly after the records were donated, the community of Beaverlodge was inundated by floodwaters, including the location where the records were previously stored.

Mathew Wozniak

Mathew Wozniak has been an avid supporter of the Archives since 2007: as a donor, advocate, volunteer, and magazine contributor. From 2007-2015, Mathew donated several accruals to the Wozniak family fonds. These records document the family’s immigration from Poland during the interwar period and settlement in the Wanham area. His volunteer involvement at the Archives began in 2012, with the transcription and translation of his family’s records from Polish. Since then, he has contributed over 600 hours to the Archives doing transcription and translation work.

To close the meeting, attendees heard presentations from a panel of community members who put archival records to work.

Maxine Maxwell of the Grande Prairie & District Branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society discussed the importance of archival records in genealogical research.

Charles Taws of the Grande Prairie Museum shared how he uses the Archives when preparing exhibits and programs.

Breanna Gouschuk of the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association discussed how she has used Archives photographs in social media.

Anna Ladwig shared how the Archives had contributed to the Glen Leslie Church restoration project.

Making History Accessible, One VCR At a Time

Image: some of the technology we use to help preserve and make media records accessible at the South Peace Regional Archives.

The South Peace Regional Archives collects a wide variety of documentary materials as part of our mandate to acquire, preserve, and make accessible historical records related to families and organizations in the South Peace Region. A collection of relevant older media technology is an important component of the “make accessible” part of our mandate.

Older (working) media technology makes it possible for us to digitize reel-to-reel film, cassettes, beta tapes, and VHS. For those items not yet digitized, the old VCRs, cassette, players, and beta machines allow researchers to view and listen to stories they would not have the opportunity enjoy.

We have a good collection of film projectors and even a couple of beta machines that help us make film, video, and audio recordings accessible to researchers. Oddly enough, we have no working VCRs or cassette players. If you have one of these precious media gems gathering dust in your abode, we would love to hear from you. The SPRA has a growing collection of VCR materials that document several families and organizations in the South Peace Region. You and your old machine can help make those records accessible.

You can contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or call us at 780-830-5105.

Wooden Valentines

While Beth Sheehan collected history and photographs from the Peace River Country, she also collected physical objects, including samples of wood.  In her collection here at the archives, we have a story and photographs of wood samples collected by Beth in the local area and in her travels. In 1954, her husband Everett gave her a wooden Valentine he made while camping on the desert in Arizona. She thought it so lovely that together they made more. Everett made boards approximately 1/4 inch thick with a band saw. Beth traced heart shapes on the boards, then cut them out with a coping saw. She filed and sanded them meticulously, making them into three-dimensional hearts. Oiling brought out the natural beauty and grain of the wood. On the back of each heart was noted the name of the wood, where it was from, the year, and in some cases, who gave it to her. She didn’t make duplicates. She also took pictures of polished wood and some wooden jewelry. Arthritis in 1985 made it too difficult to hold and work on the small pieces, and no more were made, though many pieces had been prepared.

Beth’s Wooden Valentines

Last Chance for Cemetery Tours!

 

 

South Peace Regional Archives is hosting a cemetery tour next week and we’re inviting you to join in!

The tour takes place on Wednesday, August 8 at 7:00 PM. Join us at the Grande Prairie Cemetery (84 Avenue and 112 Street) to discover the rich history of Grande Prairie and area through the stories of its people.

Call the Archives at 780-830-5105 to register. (limit of 25 participants per tour)

 

 

Lost & Found

The South Peace Regional Archives Society recently formed The Indigenous Peoples History Committee to take action in response to the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action for Archives. Our initial response was to conduct a search for any records related to Indian Residential Schools within our holdings.

Residential school students outside the Mission Church at Sturgeon Lake. SPRA 0032.08.07.098

Besides a few photographs, we found very little material to document this part of our collective past. We also noted that we have very few collections representing Indigenous people, families, or communities. However, something interesting did turn up: records related to Indigenous people are scattered throughout many of the collections in our care.

This find expanded the scope of our search.

As a first step, we are completing a broad survey of the records in our care. The purpose of the survey is to identify collections that may hold documents related to Indigenous communities and people, including residential schools.  This initial survey is nearly complete. With the help of research volunteers, we are embarking on an in-depth search of these collections to find as many of these scattered records as possible.

Future plans include creating school kits, an online searchable database, displays, and a final report of our findings to submit to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Stay tuned as we unearth find these” lost” records from our past.

Top Image: Plan of Flying Shot Lake Settlement in Township 71, Range 6, West of the Sixth Meridian in the Province of Alberta, produced by the Department of the Interior and compiled from official surveys by J.B. St. Cyr, DLS, on August 20, 1907. The plan shows lots, location of houses and stables, including the buildings of Harry & Maude Clifford on the west side of the lake. Flying Shot Lake was home to a large population of Indigenous families. SPRA 0437.01.01 J. B. Oliver Funeral Home collection.

It’s Not Just Hot Air

“The Spirit of Grande Prairie”, owned by the Trumpeter Swan Balloon Club and later by the Grande Prairie Hot Air Balloon Events Assoc., flew in many Provincial and National Hot Air Balloon Championships. SPRA 0263.02.01 Grande Prairie Hot Air Balloon Events, Assoc. fonds.

An interesting research request arrived on our desks last week: Do we have any balloon airmail commemorative covers from the Hot Air Balloon Championships held in Grande Prairie in the 1980s and 1990s? A good question that led to a few others, most notably – was that really a thing?

Yes it was. Expo ’67 sparked the first air balloon flights in Canada. And according to our researcher from the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society, it was a thing up here in Grande Prairie during our Air Ballooning heydays.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that we have two collections related to ballooning in Grande Prairie, we have come up empty handed in our search for hot air balloon commemorative covers. The Trumpeter Swan Balloon Club fonds and the Grande Prairie Hot Air Balloon Events Assoc. fonds both have detailed records related to planning, memberships, and events but nothing about balloon airmail.  We are calling on you dear readers for assistance.

If you have any commemorative covers from local balloon flights and are willing to donate the original items or a digital version, please contact us. We would be happy just to see one.

Closed for Easter

The Archives will be closed on Friday 30 March for the Easter holidays.  We will be open for our normal business hours on Monday 2 April.

Happy Easter!

Photograph: SPRA 362.02.08.035, Darwin tulips, 1925