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.

Wanna Make History?

Image: William Innes in his home, using a radio set, ca. 1930 (SPRA 032.08.08.1090)

Make your mark on history. Visit the Archives Sound Booth in the Grande Prairie Museum on Sunday, February 18 between 1:00 and 4:00 to tell the story of your family. An Archives member will provide participants with an audio recorder and interview prompts. Your family story will be preserved in the South Peace Regional Archives and available for future generations. Limited interview times are available. Visit the Archives information table early to book your time!

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.

10 Shows to Watch Before the Great War Gala

Get your popcorn ready! This week, we have carefully selected ten movies and series to watch before the Great War Gala. These shows explore the multifaceted aspects of the first World War, including the emotional impact of battle, the roles women, and the changes to home front. Many of these shows are available at the Grande Prairie Public Library or on Netflix, so get ready to settle in for a weekend in front of the television.

 

All Quiet on the Western Front

This movie is a must-watch based on a classic book of the same name. It follows a group of German schoolboys, convinced to enlist in WWI by their teacher. The story is told entirely through the experiences of these young German recruits and highlights the tragedy of war through the eyes of individuals.

Source: All Quiet on the Western Front, IMDB

 

Anzac Girls

The true stories of extraordinary young women who witness the brutality and heroism of war and rise to meet the challenge. Our Administrative Assistant, Teresa, recommends this mini series as it presents a women’s perspective of the front lines of the war and the challenges they faced working in a male-dominated environment. According to our records, several South Peace soldiers spent time in the field hospitals of France featured in the series.

This series is available at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: Anzac Girls, IMDB

 

A Bear Named Winnie

This film is based on the true story of a Canadian soldier, enroute to World War I from Winnipeg, who adopts an orphaned bear cub at White River Ontario. The bear is named Winnie (for Winnipeg) and eventually ends up at the London Zoo where it became the inspiration for A.A.Milne’s Winnie The Pooh stories.

This movie is available at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: A Bear Named Winnie, IMDB

Image Source: Original Pictures

 

The Wipers Times

When Captain Fred Roberts discovers a printing press in the ruins of Ypres, Belgium in 1916, he decides to publish a satirical magazine called The Wipers Times. This TV movie is recommended by our WWI Soldier’s Memorial volunteer, Kaylee. One of the soldiers from the South Peace region, Corp. Charles Harrison Sims, served in the regiment portrayed in Wipers Times.

This movie is available at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: The Wiper’s Times, IMDB

Image Source: Huffington Post

 

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth is a coming-of-age story based on the beloved WWI memoir by Vera Brittain. Vera’s story was heralded as the voice of a generation and has become the classic testimony of that war, from a woman’s point of view. Testament of Youth encompasses youth, hope, dreams, love, war, futility, and how to make sense of the darkest times.

This series is available on Netflix or at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: Testament of Youth, IMDB

 

Downton Abbey (Series 1-2)

Downton Abbey chronicles the lives of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early 20th Century. Series one begins with the loss of the Crawley heir in the Titanic sinking and dramatically concludes with Lord Crawley sharing the news of the outbreak of WWI.  Series two spans the Great War, including narratives from Downton and the front lines. This series is recommended by our Executive Director, Alyssa, who enjoys the quality writing, beautiful costumes, and charming British wit.

This series is available on Netflix or at the Grande Prairie Public Library.
Source: Downtown Abbey, IMDB

 

War Horse

Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.

This movie is available at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: War Horse, IMDB

Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory is an American anti-war movie based on the novel of the same name. After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses his soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them. This movie is recommend by our Archivist Josephine who feels it shows how the requirements of duty can conflict with one’s personal moral code.

Source: Paths of Glory, IMDB

 

Mr. Selfridge (Seasons 1-2)

This PBS television series centers on the real-life story of the flamboyant and visionary American founder of Selfridge’s, London’s department store. Season two highlights the impact of WWI on the home front, as the store and staff face the difficulty reality of wartime.

This series is available on Netflix or at the Grande Prairie Public Library.

Source: Mr. Selfridge, IMDB

 

Rebellion

Rebellion is a five part serial drama about the 1916 Easter Rising. The story is told from the perspectives of a group of fictional characters who live through the outbreak of WWI and subsequent political turmoil unfolding in Ireland.

This series is available on Netflix.

Source: Rebellion, IMDB

 

10 Facts You May Not Have Known About World War I

1) Slugs were used to detect poison gas attacks.

Source: How did animals (even slugs) serve in World War I?

 

2) There were separate battalions, called “bantam battalions”, for short men (under 5’4″ tall).

Source: B.C. Bantams

 

3) A fake Paris was constructed to fool German pilots.

Source: Second Paris Built to Fool the Germans

 

4) By war’s end, it was estimated that 1,000 Canadian soldiers were marrying European women (mostly British) each month.

Source: Canadian War Brides of the First World War

Grande Prairie Herald ~ February 11, 1919

 

5) Pilots in the Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force were not allowed to have parachutes.

Source: Wikipedia – The Royal Flying Corps

Wop May, a First World War flying ace, was the first pilot to land in Grande Prairie, ca. 1920

 

6) Daylight Savings Time was first used during the First World War as a way to conserve coal.

Source: History of Daylight Savings Time; For men used to mining – fighting in trenches was seen as an escape FROM HELL

Side view of a coal miner with hat and lamp working on a vein of coal 350 feet into a Wapiti Coal Mine, 1937

 

7) The Halifax Explosion (1917) was the largest man-made explosion to occur before the dropping of the atomic bombs in the Second World War.

Source: The Canadian War Museum – The Halifax Explosion

 

8) White feathers were frequently given to men in civilian clothing to label them as cowards, but on more than one occasion the recipient was in fact a soldier returned from the front.

Source: Wikipedia – White Feathers in World War I

“The White Feather: A Sketch of English Recruiting”, Collier’s Weekly (1914)

 

9) Tanks were categorized as ‘male’ and ‘female’. Female tanks had only machine guns, while male tanks had a 6-pounder cannon.

Source: Wikipedia – British Heavy Tanks of World War I

 

10) During the Christmas of 1914, Allied and German soldiers met in ‘No Man’s Land’ to exchange greetings, gifts, and play football.

Source: Wikipedia – Christmas Truce

 

Compiled by Kaylee Dyck

Save the Date

The Friends of the South Peace Regional Archives invites you to save the date for our upcoming fall event, the Great War Gala. This event will be a night to remember with dinner, dancing, displays from our collections, and more.

A silent and live auction will be held to raise money for the South Peace Regional Archives. Sponsorship opportunities are available; if you would like to receive information on our sponsorship opportunities or be added to our contact list for tickets please call or email the archives at 780-830-5105 or director@southpeacearchives.org.

Every Thursday leading up to the event, our blog will have feature a lighthearted list to prepare you for the Gala; we will be showcasing fun facts, great reads, fashion trends, famous battles, and trench slang.

 

 

Coming Up: The Alaska Highway Road Show

If you like storytelling, don’t miss the Alaska Highway Roadshow on July 6th in the Grande Prairie Museum Community Room at 7:00 PM. Only 100 tickets are available and they are selling fast at $10.00.  Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance from the Grande Prairie Museum (Cash Only)

Performers Bill Dolan, Alison Tubman, and Kathy Jessup have a long family history in the north, and they have created an entertaining look back at the history of the Alaska Highway through research, family stories, music, artifacts, and photographs.

Raised as “highway kids,” they lend an authentic voice to this ninety-minute tribute concert. Audiences will gain an appreciation of why the Alaska Highway deserves to be Canada’s newest National Historic Site and why truckers and all those who’ve called it home over the years proudly share a special bond. The Trail of ’42 is a remarkable story, and as the Highway reaches its 75th birthday, this is the time to tell it!

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)