Lost & Found

South Peace Regional Archives’ oldest documents met up with some of their youngest ‘descendants’ Friday, 4 August. Judy, along with her two granddaughters, stopped by to look for records related to John Davis. Davis, they recently discovered, is a long-lost ancestor. As luck would have it, a copy of the will is currently on display in the Village as part of the SPRA’s History of the South Peace in Ten Documents. We brought out the Davis, Hodgson, Coulter papers, including the original will, for her see. Judy shared family history with her granddaughters as they examined the documents in the file. Besides the will, the collection includes calling cards, photographs, and mortgage papers. Judy also filled us in on some of the family history, including identifying family members in the image below. As luck would have it, she has the same photograph at home. It was a remarkable day for the archives and for the family.

Photograph: L-R. Douglas Alexander Currie; Mary Harriet Louise Davis Currie; Robert Davis Currie; George Currie, as recently identified by Judy. Mary and George Currie are her grandparents. Robert is her father and Douglas is her uncle.

~Archivist Josephine Sallis

Work in Progress – Bill Turnbull “Weaving Lives”

Still at this project. In my defense, it is a huge collection. Bill was a teacher for over 40 years and active in the running community. An avid photographer, he produced thousands of photographs that remind me of this quote: “Every person’s story weaves in and out of another person’s story.” The photographs I’m describing now which depict the Brian Harms Memorial Run are a touching example of this.

Brian Harms began running in 1976 and became one of the top runners in provincial track and cross- country. He switched to road running in 1980 and competed in the first Jasper-Banff Relay that year. Brian Harms was also a founding member of the Wapiti Striders Road Running Club of Grande Prairie. At the time of his death in November 1986, he was the club president.

In his honour, the club changed the name of their 10-mile road race to the Brian Harms Memorial Run. It is touching to see friends and family running and walking in his memory year after year, with new names cropping up as time goes on. Young and old alike are enjoying an activity with a group Brian was instrumental in forming. He touched so many lives then and continues to do so today.

I feel very privileged to be able to work with these records and witness how peoples’ lives intersect. There are some great people and stories waiting here at the South Peace Regional Archives. Hopefully, yours will be here one day waiting for someone to find you again and marvel at all the lives you touched.

By Archivist Josephine Sallis

South Peace Regional Archives Welcomes New Executive Director

The South Peace Regional Archives is pleased to welcome Alyssa Currie, who has taken over the role of Executive Director this week. Currie succeeds Mary Nutting who retired from her post.

Currie was born and raised in Dawson Creek before attending the University of Northern British Columbia where she completed her Bachelors of Arts in English and History, then going to the University of Victoria, where she is currently completing her Masters of Arts. Her previous experience includes working as an Assistant Curator at the Pouce Coupe Museum, Student Archivist at Library and Archives Canada, and as a Recruitment Officer at the University of Victoria.

Currie will draw upon her previous work and academic experiences, as well as her personal connection to the area. “I look forward to bringing the history of the South Peace region into the present and the future,” she remarks, stressing that “this work would not be possible without the generous support of the Archive’s municipal partners, donors, and community members.”

The South Peace Regional Archives continues its commitment to gathering, preserving, and sharing the historical records of the region. The archives enrich people’s lives by increasing their understanding and appreciation of the past.

For more information, please contact:

Alyssa Currie, Executive Director
780-830-5105
director@southpeacearchives.org

Surprise Party at the Archives

On Thursday, June 29, staff and volunteers surprised South Peace Regional Archives’ founder and executive director Mary Nutting with a potluck luncheon, celebrating her achievements in preserving the history of the South Peace.  We’ll miss Mary’s presence and expertise at the archives after her retirement, but we know she’ll continue to support the archives and pursue her passion for history.

All the best, Mary!

A gift of Depression glass and flowers for Mary from the museum

Karen Burgess presenting Mary with her gift from the archives staff

“A party without cake is just a meeting.” ~Julia Child

Hythe Homecoming Collection on SPRA Website

A new collection from the Hythe Homecoming committee has been uploaded to our website.  The collection consists of photographs and documents that were collected by Grace Wideman for the Memory Lane at the Homecoming. The pictures truly tell the story of Hythe through the years 1927-2007, including photos of students, businesses, sporting events, community buildings, and much more.

Six kids on bikes on Main Street Hythe, Alberta, l-r: Gary Reid, Jane Inkster, Brenda Smith, Vernon Mutch, Brock Smith and Jim Moody. Dixon & Hill Store and 2 cafes in the backgroumd, one being the U.N. Café.

Visit Hythe Homecoming 2016 fonds on our website to read more about the collection and enjoy as you tour through Memory Lane.

Spring Cleaning at the Archives

Recently, as part of our Integrated Pest Management program (IPM), the SPRA held its first annual spring cleaning bee. You may be thinking, “Integrated Pest Management! Does the archives have bugs?” No and yes. Technically, most bugs are not true bugs, they are insects. (I know a gardener who takes the terminology very seriously and I do too as a gesture of solidarity). So, no bugs in the archives. But the occasional spider and millipede does get in there. Both eat other insects. Luckily, the spiders like whatever it is they put in the pest traps and the millipedes seem to starve to death so the records remain safe.

IPM is less about dealing with a pest problem and more about preventing a pest problem.

Material coming in is inspected. Any items that look suspicious are quarantined. Pest traps attract wayward critters and give us an indication of what is wandering in. But the most important preventative activity for our IPM is housekeeping.

We regularly clean our working space but the storage shelves are a bit trickier. In both the unprocessed area and the processed storage vault, the shelves are full of boxes. Not something that gets dusted every day. Or week. Or month. It is a big job. Not a job for one or even four staff, only one of whom is here full time. The job needed doing and we needed help so we called in our volunteers. It was a great fun day of dusting, reorganizing, and out with the old.  (Empty boxes only. This is an Archive after all) We followed up all that hard work with a potluck lunch.

A few shelves in the vault still require dusting and a pest spot check in the bottom rows of boxes. It won’t be as exciting now that Meg isn’t here to scare me with, “Oh my gosh! This one is huge!” Thanks, Meg. I  had skipped my cardio that day and needed to get my heart rate up.

While it wasn’t all done, we accomplished a lot. More than just cleaning. It was great to get all the volunteers and staff together. We’re not all in at the same time and catching up helps us bond as a team. Volunteers were able to see more of the archive than they usually do. They are generally very focused on their projects and don’t get to see the other work areas. And last but not least we were able to assure ourselves, by moving around boxes and checking files, that the SPRA really is in good shape. If we ever do encounter a pest problem, we’ll be better able to pinpoint the possible causes and determine solutions because we have limited the possible start time to some time after June 2017.

That is a lot of value for a cleaning bee at the Archive. Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers and staff who made it happen.

by Archivist Josephine Sallis

Upcoming Cemetery Tours

South Peace Regional Archives is hosting two cemetery tours this summer and we’re inviting you to join in!

On Tuesday, July 4 and Friday, August 25 at 7:00 PM we will be hosting our annual cemetery walking tours.  Join us at the Grande Prairie Cemetery (84 Avenue and 112 Street) to discover the rich and interesting history of Grande Prairie and area through the lives and stories of its people.  Our tour will highlight the lives of those who served in the two world wars.  Please note that this will be the same tour that was given last summer.

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

What A Collection

Ethel Vader’s Golden Jubilee Senior Citizen Award

I always like it at the archives when someone comes in carrying boxes, which happened last month. My next favorite thing is when I hear there are more boxes at home.

South Peace Regional Archives is now home to a wonderful collection of information from the Grimm, Vader, and Scott families who lived in the Rycroft area. The collection consists of hundreds of negatives, photographs, account books, certificates, WWII letters, etc., the list is long and extensive. One item from the collection is a certificate that was given to residents of Alberta on its Golden Jubilee in 1955. The certificate in this collection was given to Ethel (Scott) Vader. Ethel was born in North Dakota in 1888, moving with her family to Calgary as an infant. Ethel and her husband Dan moved to Spirit River where they remained for many years.

These extensive family records still need to be processed by our Archivist but will be a great benefit to historians and family researchers in the years to come.

By Research Archivist Patricia Greber

 

Work in Progress: Bill Turnbull fonds Part 2

It has been a very busy few months meeting people, attending workshops, and researching for the Canada 150 display. Some days I get to be an archivist and work at my ongoing arrangement and description project, the Bill Turnbull fonds.

One of the great things about Bill’s records is that the photographs and files came with a list of titles and dates for sets of photographs. Some of the photographs are individually labeled. This is a dream come true for an archivist. While we do not require that collections be organized before they are donated, we do love when there is an original order we can follow. The arrangement process moves faster for one thing. For another, a discernible original order provides for a better understanding of the context in which the records were created and used. We can be confident we are not messing with the history or contextual information contained in the record.

Sadly, one of the tasks I am spending a lot of time on is carefully scraping sticky residue off photographs. Bill’s photographs are generally in very good condition but a number of them have spent time glued or taped into scrapbooks. It is a bit tedious and I sometimes think, “These photographs are not even that old; maybe this is overkill.” That is my age speaking, though. Some of these photographs are almost forty years old. Not quite as old as me but still old-ish. And with good care, these photographs will be really old someday. Old enough that someone will marvel at the health and vitality of their sixteen-year-old great-grandmother captured in a still image.

That is one reason why we do what we do at the SPRA. Record creators like Bill start the process of preserving evidence of the past by capturing moments and information they feel have value. We help those documents and photographs, and anything else people are generous enough to create and donate, weather the passage of time so they too can become one of the “old-timers” future researchers marvel over.

By Archivist Josephine Sallis

Work in Progress: Bill Turnbull fonds

Above photograph: Bill Turnbull out for a run, 1976

Bill Turnbull was an educator and photographer in Grande Prairie through the seventies and up to the early 2000s. He was also very active in the running community in Grande Prairie, being one of the members of the old Grande Prairie Legion Track and Field club who helped found the Wapiti Striders Road Running Club.

Between 2013 and 2016, Bill donated over 10,000 photographs to the SPRA. Processing of these records has now begun. On the donation form, the receiving archivist noted that the photographs relate to local running clubs. As I work through the arrangement and description project for this collection, it turns out that the contents are about more than just running.

The photographs in this collection were taken to record the activities of local people many of you probably know. Almost by accident, they have also recorded a history of the urban and rural spaces these people lived in. The site featured in some of the photographs is Muskoseepi Park. The area seems more like a rolling meadow. The trees are so sparse and small. The Heritage Village has very little tree cover and is easily viewed from a distance. It feels like I am looking at the childhood photos of someone I just met.

That is one of the interesting things about records: even the creator is not always aware of the story he is recording. When Bill Turnbull donated his photographs, he said they were about running. The collection is more than that. It is also about people working together for a common cause, people enjoying their life and their youthful vitality. It is also about Grande Prairie and the communities around it. It is going to take a while to process these “running club” records but I think the story they will ultimately tell will be a large one.

by Archivist Josephine Sallis

The Heritage Village, 1988