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 Métis 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

The Modern Vintage Wedding

Your wedding is a celebration, and sharing the day with family and friends is important.  There are many unique ideas to honour loved ones, both past and present, on your special day.

One way to make your family history part of the wedding day is to use, alter, or repurpose your mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress.  Take a piece of the dress and incorporate it into your wedding dress, bridal sash or headpiece, jewelry, a clutch, or attach the lace onto the bouquet or garter.

You can also use, alter, or repurpose your father’s or grandfather’s suit.  Wear the same tie, pocket square, or cuff links they wore on their wedding day.

Use stones from a family heirloom or family wedding ring(s) in the ceremony.  Wear family heirlooms like jewelry, watches, or a bridal headpiece.

Recreate your parent’s entire wedding cake, incorporate details from their cake into yours, or use their cake topper.

There are so many unique ways to make your wedding day special for you and your loved ones.  Check out the March 2018 issue of Telling Our Stories for more ideas.

The South Peace Regional Archives would be happy to assist you in safely storing your photographs and documents.  If you donate or loan for copy your family records to the archives, you can easily access the items and help preserve your family history.

Paper flowers made using reproductions of love letters

History Made!

Above: Sharing Stories: Jim and Mary Jean read while Dr. Carlisle talks to young David, 1941. (SPRA 399.01.43)

Archives staff and volunteers shared ideas and suggestions with guests keen to learn their history and to preserve their family stories. Two families shared their family stories with us in our pop-up sound booth surrounded by images from the South Peace Region’s past. We were delighted to hear how families interact with each other, where they like to spend their holiday time, and their special family traditions.

Whether through sound recordings, scrapbooks, letters, or handwritten memoirs, family stories provide rich and diverse information and images about how people lived in the past. These new oral histories will be a great boon to researchers of the future looking back to see how we lived our lives today. Thanks to the two families who shared their stories, we now have an additional resource to add to the South Peace Regional Archives Sound Recording collection.

Archivist Josephine Sallis ready to record family stories in front of the SPRA pop up sound booth.

Archived Love

Above: Card shared between Margaret and Eddie Schadeck, 1948.  SPRA 131

Below: Pages from Valentine’s Card n.d. SPRA 136 (1992.48.175)

Valentine’s Day can be traced back to ancient Rome when Lupercalia, a fertility rite, was celebrated between February 13 and 15. Later, after the martyrdom of two Christian saints – Valentine of Terni around AD 197 and Valentine of Rome around AD 496 – the Catholic church Christianized the holiday by claiming 14 February as St. Valentine’s Day.

You will not be surprised to learn it was the French who made it into a celebrated annual feast day for lovers with lavish banquets and singing and dancing during the 15th century. Nor should you be surprised to learn that the oldest surviving Valentine committed to paper was written by a French man. While imprisoned in the Tower of London following the 1415 battle of Agincourt, the Duke of Orleans wrote to his wife: “Je suis desja d’amour tanné/Ma tres doulce Valentinée,” which means, “I am already sick of love/my very gentle Valentine.” The letter must not have made it to his wife as it is held at the British Library, which also holds the oldest surviving English Valentine. Written in 1477, it was sent by Margery Brews to her “right well-beloved Valentine,” fiancé John Paston.

Hand-made Valentine’s cards became popular in the 18th century. During this period, factory made cards also began to be produced, although they did not become popular until the 19th century. Possibly the oldest surviving printed Valentine’s card is the 1797 card at York Castle Museum, England. It was sent by Catherine Mossday to Mr. Brown of London and read: “Since on this ever Happy day,/All Nature’s full of Love and Play./Yet harmless still if my design,/‘Tis but to be your Valentine.”

To continue in the tradition of celebrating Love on St. Valentine’s Day, here are a few choice Valentine’s Day cards from our collection. Their heartfelt expressions, though written in the past, still ring true for friends and lovers today.

Below: Cards shared between Margaret and Eddie Schadeck before 1949. These two cards have movable parts.  SPRA 131.

Below: Valentine shared between Muriel and Clem Collins, n.d. SPRA 476.

Winter Fun, Winter Work

Above: Sexsmith curling ladies in 1928 posed with brooms, rocks, and a trophy. Skip Mrs. Brown (left), ?, Mrs. Ellsworth Foy (holding cup), and ? presumably outside the Sexsmith Curling Rink.

Not everyone is ready to wrap themselves up in their snuggly blankets and hunker down on the couch to binge watch their favourite TV shows when the temperature drops. Even on the coldest day, joggers, dog-walkers, students and workers brave the chill to do what they need to get doing.

It was no different in the early days of the South Peace. Daily chores had to be done, deliveries had to be made, railways and roads needed to be built. Winter work was balanced by winter fun. South Peace residents were quick to organize sports teams and winter carnivals to help them make most the most of the northern weather.

The ice cutters. Two men loosen blocks with hand saws while one man pulls blocks out with ice pick and two men load blocks in truck prior to delivery.

Brave the winter weather and make your way to the library tonight for the presentation, “Winter Fun, Winter Work,” by Archivist Josephine Sallis from the South Peace Regional Archives. The presentation starts at 6:30 pm.

Special Delivery from Norway

Last week, the Archives received a very special delivery from Oslo, Norway: a copy of Edvard Hoem’s Liv Andre Har Levd. This historical novel, published by Oktober Publisher, includes a reproduction of 1955 County of Grande Prairie map from our collections. The publisher generously provided a copy of the book for the Archives’ reference library.

Liv Andre Har Levd is the fourth and final installment of a Norwegian series that chronicles the lives of an immigrant family who struggle to make a new life for themselves in Western Canada. The book launched to positive reviews and received a second printing merely two weeks after initial publication. As of Friday, 15 December 2017, Edvard Hoem’s novel has reached 2nd place on the publisher’s bestsellers list. (19 December 2017 update: Liv Andre Har Levd is currently the bestselling novel in Norway)

The book provides an interesting example of the widespread reach of materials from our local collections. Among the sea of unrecognizable Norwegian, we spied the occasional (perhaps untranslatable) English words, names, and phrases: “Alberta Pool Elevator,” “Grand Trunk Railway,” “middle of nowhere,” “Red Cross Hospital,” “homesteaders,” etc. The endpaper of the book includes a portion of the County of Grande Prairie map and provides an authentic supplement to the personal histories within its narrative.

The 1955 County of Grande Prairie map was compiled by R.B. Bowen, the secretary-treasurer of the County of Grande Prairie No. 1. The map records the landowners, schools, and road locations from the area. It is bordered by the Smokey River to the East and the Wapiti River to the South. The original document is displayed in the Reading Room of the South Peace Regional Archives, where it is often consulted by researchers wishing to locate family-owned property.

Click here to browse the book (in Norwegian).

Click here to view a reproduction of the map.

Click here to view the 1955 County of Grande Prairie Land Ownership Map Database.

 

1955 County of Grande Prairie Land Ownership Map [cropped] SPRA 1969.53.075

Introducing Donna Richards – SPRA’s New Archives Technician

Hi! My name is Donna Richards and I am the new Archives Technician at South Peace Regional Archives.

I was born in Grande Prairie and have spent most of my life in the Peace River regions of Alberta and British Columbia, except for four years when I attended the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree, I was offered my first teaching position with Peace Wapiti School Division #76 at Sexsmith Elementary School. Three years later I transferred into Grande Prairie. I taught at Harry Balfour School, which was only two shorts blocks from my childhood home, for three decades. After 33 years in the teaching profession I retired in 2014.

After retiring, I felt I needed to keep myself active and engaged. The past three plus years I’ve been busy substitute teaching at local schools and facilitating student teachers from Grande Prairie Regional College. Now I can add Archives Technician to the list! I am thrilled to be given this opportunity and look forward to learning and working at South Peace Regional Archives.