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

Career Opportunity: Full-Time Archivist

South Peace Regional Archives is seeking an Archivist for a full-time, continuing position beginning November 1, 2016. The Archivist oversees the process of acquisition and the preservation of archival records. S/he participates in developing educational programs and events to enhance public awareness, and reports to the Executive Director.

South Peace Regional Archives is a community Archives, established in 2000 and funded by four municipalities. There are three staff members. It is currently housed in the Grande Prairie Museum, with a new building planned for in 2017-2018. The job description can be viewed on the website at


  • A degree in Archival Studies, Library and Information Studies, History or related discipline.
  • A solid understanding of the principles and standards of archival science.
  • Familiarity with primary historical research techniques.
  • Awareness of Canadian and Alberta history.
  • Strong organizational, communication, analytical and research skills.
  • A strong aptitude for independent decision making and acting with initiative.


Salary Range is $42,000-$55,000 (commensurate with education and experience)

Please forward a resume and cover letter no later than September 30, 2016 to South Peace Regional Archives Executive Director at


Here is the complete job description:


South Peace Regional Archives

Archivist Job Description

The purpose of the South Peace Regional Archives Society is to encourage the appreciation and study of the history of the south Peace River Country of Alberta by acquiring, preserving, and making accessible to the public, records in any format which reflect the cultural, social, economic and political history of this area. The Archivist at South Peace Regional Archives oversees the process of acquisition, preservation and accessibility of archival records. S/he participates in developing educational programs and events to enhance public awareness. S/he works with and reports to the Executive Director.

Responsibilities and Activities

  1. The Archivist draws on extensive knowledge of archival science to acquire authentic records of enduring value to develop a “full spectrum holdings”; meaning a full range of both public and private records related to the south Peace River Country of Alberta regardless of media.
    1. Appraises records offered for donation to determine whether or not they should be acquired.
    2. Guides members of the public through the records donation process, advising them on the legal transfer of ownership, and negotiating access and use conditions.
    3. Maintains the accession register and the accession files.
    4. Assists in producing and implementing policies and procedures regarding acquisitions.
  1. The Archivist supports the mission and business goals of the SPRA by overseeing the physical control and permanent preservation of the records.
    1. Evaluates and assigns use and value priorities to the archival holdings so that the appropriate preservation and conservation measures are applied to the records.
    2. Performs tasks and supervises the preservation activities of archival technicians, volunteers, contractors and interns.
    3. Examines the records and uses technical knowledge to identify formats and determine specific care and storage requirements.
    4. Provides instruction to other staff, members of the public, and other institutions on the proper care, handling, and preservation of records of all media.
    5. Assists with grant applications for preservation projects.
  1. The Archivist establishes intellectual control of the records according to national archival standards.
    1. Conducts research to determine the provenance, arrangement, composition, scope, informational content, and internal and external relationships of the records.
    2. Prepares detailed descriptions about the structure, function and content of the records and records creator according to the Canadian Rules of Archival Description.
    3. Reformats the material as necessary for public access, including scanning and uploading to provincial databases and the SPRA website.
    4. Manages the reference library in the reading room by assigning Library of Congress numbers to each volume.
    5. Assists researchers and members of the public, providing access to holdings and advising them with respect to provincial access and federal use legislation.
    6. Processes requests for reproductions of photographs and digital media.
  2. The Archivist participates in planning educational programs and special events in accordance with the South Peace Regional Archives Society’s goal to promote appreciation for the historical resources and culture of the south Peace.
    1. Develops exhibits to increase the profile of the SPRA.
    2. Provides archival education by conducting workshops, giving presentations, and writing articles for publication.
    3. Participates in provincial and national associations, advisory boards and cross-government initiatives to foster partnerships with various stakeholders groups.
    4. Provides professional advice to archives staff and members of the public.
    5. Provides advice regarding national and provincial legislation as it relates to archival practice.
  1. Performance and Evaluation.
    1. The Archivist position carries with it a probationary period of six months, during which time employment may be terminated by either party without penalty.
    2. A formative evaluation of the Archivist will be conducted by the Executive Director on an annual basis to support the goals of the organization and the individual.
    3. A summative evaluation will be activated only in extreme situations.


Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • A degree in Archival Studies, Library and Information Studies, History or related discipline. A Master’s Degree is preferred.
  • A solid understanding of principles, standards and methodology of archival science and records management, and proven skills in the interpretation and application of archival theories.
  • Familiarity with primary historical research techniques and trends and awareness of the needs of disciplines that utilize archival sources.
  • Awareness of Canadian and Alberta history, political climate, and social context in which records were created.
  • Good understanding of system requirements for the Archives.
  • Strong organizational, communication, analytical and research skills.
  • Supervisory and interpersonal skills to motivate staff, volunteers, members of the public, outside organizations and other stakeholders.
  • Good conflict resolution and negotiation skills.
  • A strong aptitude for independent decision making and acting with initiative.

How Have the Archives Helped YOU?

Do you have a story about how South Peace Regional Archives has touched or impacted your life in a positive way? We’d love to hear about it! We are currently working on a case statement about the Archives and its needs and we need first-hand evidence about how the Archives has helped people. Please email Leslie at to tell your story or get more information.

Wanted: Photos of Harry Adair

Attention, descendants of the families who purchased the Adair Ranching Company north of Wembley in 1930!

Cornelius Toews
Gerhard Jacob Weins (Wiens?)
Jacob Epp
John Gossen
Abraham Funk
Abraham Kathler
Abraham Friesen
Jacob Franz
Jacob Berg
Henry Sukkau
Jacob D. Nickel
Herman Wall
John Goerzen (Goertzen?)
Peter Friesen
A. Regier

This summer, the Friends of the Archives are planning to reenact the story of Harry Adair at the Scenic Heights picnic grounds.  Do you have any photographs of Harry Adair in your family albums that you are willing to share?


Archives Week 2014 – Politics & Government

For Archives Week this year, we created a virtual exhibit centered around the theme of Politics & Government.  At first glance this may not seem like the most thrilling topic, but the government touches nearly every aspect of our lives and we’ve put together a collection of photographs showcasing their involvement in South Peace communities throughout the region’s history.  You can view the exhibit here.

Devil Must Be Holding Grim Carnival

Something pretty serious must be going on judging by this headline from page 2 of the September 23, 1912 newspaper. Read on:

Sept. 16, 1913

Sept. 16, 1913

Grande Prairie Herald Sept 23, 1913

Grande Prairie Herald Sept 23, 1913















Fashion houses have banned the slit skirt.

Madame Paquin declares that it is already

out of fashion. “For one comely limb

revealed,” she says, “there were nine

that had been better hidden.” Paris, March 18, 1914.

slit skirt

If this picture has piqued your interest in the fashions of yesteryear, in honour of Archives Week 2013, please join us for an afternoon of memories about fashion, costume and clothing in the South Peace. (Did the evil slit skirt make an appearance here?) Sunday October 6 at the Grande Prairie Golden Age Centre (10222 – 101 Ave). Doors open at 1:45 pm, Program begins at 2 pm. Refreshments to follow.


Lake Saskatoon Comparable to Italy

Here is an article describing the natural beauty of the Lake Saskatoon area. It is no wonder that it was one of the first choice of pioneers when deciding where to settle in the Peace Country. Lake Saskatoon was bypassed by the railroad in 1924, not to be deterred the towns folks packed up, buildings and all and resettled in Wembley.

Lake Saskatoon is Arcadia

“…the beautiful lake lapping its shores, and the broad expansive view, lends somewhat of an Italian aspect, and would remind the experienced traveller of the Bay of Naples…”



This article is taken from the Grande Prairie Herald on Aug 22, 1916.


Swimming Shenanigans & Ladies Allowed in Pool Hall

Our intrepid researcher has come across some old newspaper articles, one will make you chuckle and the other highlights the restrictions that women lived with not too long ago.

The first article I think we can all relate to as it refers to a group of men trying to find an outdoor pool to cool off in. With Grande Prairie’s outdoor pool having been shut down this summer there are some residents that can relate. The solution the men came up with was not the best. Both news clippings are taken from the front page of the Grande Prairie Herald August 10, 1939.

The story describes a gang of young men who over a few beers decide they need to go for a swim. Under the advisement of a group member they head off to a new, as yet unknown location. After cooling themselves for some time they were to learn that it was not a swimming hole…


I don’t know which I liked more the story or the authors flowery writing!























The 2nd article is about Ladies being allowed into the new pool hall. I wonder what women would do today of they were told they were not allowed to enter a building, it was for men only?