The idea that electric clocks and pencil sharpeners were ever considered implausible may strike us as a bit naive in our day when we have those items plus many others powered by electricity. The Ribbonless Typewriter, however, seems to have been an idea that didn’t fly! Even typewriters sold today have ribbons.
When I noticed the article “A Timely Suggestion” on the Editorial page of the April 12, 1934 paper, I realized how much we take for granted. We are accustomed to having bathrooms available in almost every store and building in town. Imagine coming to Grande Prairie for the day from an outlying town and not having anywhere to “go”! From an article I found the next month, it appears that the Women’s Institute was instrumental in setting up the rest room. Another Women’s Institute project was a Mother’s Waiting Home. Nowadays, when travel by car on good roads from great distances is possible, it is hard for us to imagine that a service as this was ever necessary.
I guess we like to think that “in the old days” when everything was better, problems with teenagers just didn’t happen. These two items, from 1934 and 1937, indicate otherwise. Perhaps some of the trouble the kids got into was different, but acts of vandalism seem to have been prevalent then as now, and with about as much point. Sexsmith’s answer to “hoodlums'” activities during dances was to post several men to keep watch, and there would be consequences.
We’ve posted about ice boat runaways, ice carnivals, and cutting ice, but this 1939 report from Pipestone Creek about people crossing the Wapiti River when there was three feet of water over the ice takes the cake! An item following this report says that an $8 basket to cross the river on the ferry cables could save a life during the dangerous spring and fall. A bridge wasn’t built over the Wapiti until 1958, and it was south of Grande Prairie. The Wembley ferry operated until 1970, but winter crossings were still on the ice for many years, with crossings during the spring thaw the most hazardous.
The headline for the article about downtown Christmas lights was “Grande Prairie in Blaze of Light for Holidays.” The hockey article’s sub-heading was “New Lights Made Rink as Bright as Day.” It occurred to me while trying to decide between the two that what they had in common was how entrancing all the lights were to the people of that time. While we are used to all the bright signs, street and highway lights, even all the lights in and outside of our homes, back then a lighted hockey rink and a main street decked out in Christmas lights were still a bit of a novelty and somewhat of an indulgence. I especially like to picture the huge star on the old water tower, eighty feet in the air.
Kathryn discovered this vivid account of one woman’s experience in the Grande Prairie Municipal Hospital in a 1933 issue of The Northern Tribune. In spite of Maud’s initial dread of her operation, it seems as though it was a better experience than she anticipated!
New fire hall and water tower with well-equipped firefighters ready for service, ca. 1920
To mark the Grande Prairie Fire Department’s 100th anniversary celebrations this weekend, I have chosen three fire related items from the newspapers. The first from 1916 describes a destructive fire that swept main street, but was checked by the use of the chemical engines purchased the year before. An article from 1933 describes an incident linked to a fire in the Spencer Block, where dynamite was going to be used to stop the fire from spreading. The third item we have used before in this blog, but I think it’s good enough to repeat – a practical joke which the fire department was privy to. I can’t imagine a stunt like that being allowed today!
There were so many news items about the serious flooding throughout the area in June and early July of 1935. It seems the pioneering spirit was still very much alive, as most seem to have treated the situation as a great adventure and with ingenuity. (Note: In the item headlined “Stock Buyer Reports Costly Trip” I was fascinated by the statement that the train had been backed up from Slave Lake to McLennan, a distance of about 140 km)
While local Boy Scouts were having “the time of their lives” at a big jamboree in Edmonton, some other boys were having a boating adventure on Bear Creek. Early in May, I would think the water would have been pretty cold, but they showed resourcefulness in dealing with the situation. Maybe they were Boy Scouts who didn’t make the trip to the jamboree; they certainly acted true to the motto, “Be Prepared.”
There’s the time in the spring when we’re pretty sure winter is over, but it’s too early for many outdoor activities. These items from the newspapers describe a couple of ways to pass time in early spring. In 1933, Grande Prairie golfers could attend the indoor “golf driving court” set up in a building formerly occupied by (no kidding) Kelly’s Pool Room. In 1950 LaGlace, as reported in the Sexsmith Sentinel, hosted a most unusual fashion show, described as a riot! It was followed by a pie auction and the inevitable dance.