The district of Cornwall, south of Ridgevalley, was named for nearby Cornwall Creek, which in turn was named after “Peace River Jim” Cornwall, MLA for the Peace River District from 1909 to 1913. He was a great promoter of Peace Country and while MLA, he financed a month-long tour of the region to show adventure writers, reporters, agriculturists and geologists the potential he saw in the Peace region.
Cornwall School was built on the banks of this creek, ½ mile south of Twp Rd 705 on Rge Rd 262 in 1936. This was home base for the Cornwall Baseball team, as well as the first meeting place for the Cornwall Mennonite Brethren until a church was built in 1942. The community also had a Drama League, a CGIT troupe, and a Good Neighbours Club which supported the Red Cross, soldiers during wartime, and people in need. The school closed in 1960, and the church evolved into the current Gospel Light Church in DeBolt. The most visible remnant of Cornwall is the Cornwall Cemetery on the Ridgevalley Road, four miles south of the hamlet.
Several children studying outside of Cornwall School, ca. 1941
On April 25, 1935 the Northern Tribune carried an article which began, “On Tuesday evening of last week Bridgeview players presented the drama, ‘Dust of the Earth’ in the Masonic Hall here.”
The Masonic Hall mentioned was in Spirit River, and the proceeds of the drama went towards building a community hall in Bridgeview, about 10 miles south on Secondary Highway 731. A one-room country school had been established here in 1929, and a post office and store in 1931.
The people who lived at Bridgeview were mostly homesteaders, and they were a pretty active and social lot. I only found five articles in the paper, but besides the Bridgeview Players, the articles talk about a Young People’s Club, the Ladies Aid, the Bridgeview Hockey Club and an ice rink, a dance sponsored by the Veterans of the community, a box social and dance to raise money for the Christmas concert, the Holmberg orchestra, a skating party, bean supper and dance sponsored by the hockey club, and a wedding shower for a new bride. It always amazes me how much community building went on during the Great Depression.
The community hall was never built, and the school continued to serve as a community gathering place. Later on, ca. 1940, a small white church, the Bridgeview Alliance Tabernacle, was built just south of the school and a cemetery laid out behind the church. You can still see the old school, church and cemetery as the remains of the Bridgeview community, and you can read about the families in the book Memories and Moments: Bridgeview, White Mountain, and Willowvale.
The oldest collection at the Archives came from the Coulter family in Bridgeview. It contains the 1820 Will of Hudson’s Bay Factor John Davis, and, among other documents, this mortgage on the family horses and cows during the depression. This collection can be viewed as the Davis, Hodgson, Coulter fonds on our website.
This story reminds me of the scene in the movie A Christmas Story, when the Bumpus’s dogs have stolen the turkey but the aroma lingers in the air. What happened seems a bit unfair, but I don’t know what the regulations were in those days. It’s curious that it was the cook who was charged, but I think the mistake was having the dinner in a restaurant. It also seems like a bit of a set-up that the police just happened along as the bird was about to be served.
The Dimsdale news of October 13, 1932 recounted an incident where a farmer’s tame goose was shot by a hunter. The farmer met the fellow at his car and “sold” him the goose. The fellow in the second article went out to the barnyard with his .22 to get a chicken for Sunday dinner, with unexpected results.
Jimmy and Peggy Mair of Grande Prairie in the potato garden, 1954
I just dug my potatoes, and I imagine lots of people with gardens are getting theirs done too. It got me thinking about the many items I have noticed in the newspapers about the biggest potatoes, longest vines, most in a hill, weirdest shapes, and anything else that concerned this most important crop for the early settlers. While the sizes and weights varied from year to year, it does seem as though things grew bigger back then. I can hardly imagine potato plants almost 6 feet high, and unless they counted differently in those days too, 385 potatoes in one hill is amazing (unbelievable, but amazing!). To top it all off is a story about a fellow who went out to his potato patch and played his bagpipes to the spuds.
I’ve picked these three unusual stories this week because of all the various ones I have found in the papers, these create the most vivid images in my mind. It’s pretty hilarious to picture a hen sitting on two piglets! The other two are the kind where you just have to say “awww!”
Haina Kirstien, winner in the 185 lb. novice class of the Provincial Amateur Boxing Championships held in Grande Prairie March 18, 1950.
There are many articles about boxing matches in the old papers, and I usually just skip them. I started reading this one and right at the start was intrigued by the idea of a band playing between the bouts. I also found the idea of a match between a wrestler and a boxer, each following the rules of his own sport, quite fascinating. Overall, it seemed like a pretty good day of entertainment at the First of July sports.
The Imperial Bank of Canada on the north-west corner of Richmond Avenue was later occupied by Central Jewellers on the ground floor and Cal’s Barber Shop, ca. 1935
When I noticed the headline on this item, my first thought was that the little boy had fallen into the creek. Much to my surprise, the body of water in question was “a pool of water at the corner of main street and the Boulevard” (102 St.). Now that’s some pothole! Fortunately the boy was rescued, apparently none the worse for his experience. One shudders to think of the repercussions of such an incident today.
The news from Bay Tree in the November 25, 1937 issue of the Northern Tribune talks at length about the progress that has been made in that area. The writer attributes many of the improvements to better roads. That area was pretty isolated so good roads would have been a boon. At the end of the article, there is a list of possible (but not probable) future developments, including annexing the “BC Block.”
It’s hard to imagine the creek we know today as a “surging torrent,” but much work has been done over the years to prevent the floods that seemed to happen quite often in the past. In the midst of the turmoil, picture someone taking their washing off the clothesline from a boat! In the Narrow Escape item, three men had their boat overturned in a whirlpool on the creek, and while all were rescued, Constable Burgess had the additional misfortune of being carried over the dam. I’m not sure this is the same dam as today, it sounds like it was farther south. It’s curious that the article didn’t say why the fellows were out on the creek at all.