Post Office Woes

A Baby Moose By an Old Post Office, 1923

A Baby Moose By an Old Post Office, 1923

Having just had a card from Smithers, BC take two weeks to get here, I wasn’t feeling to happy with the Post Office, but the old Postie in me reacted with indignation to this article from 1917.  Business had quadrupled but the number of staff remained the same.  I was also surprised at the quantity of mail coming in this district at that time.  700 sacks of mail a month is a lot; that’s over 23 a day, plus 50 registered letters a day, for the 21 offices in the area that Grande Prairie distributed the mail to.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

November 18, 1917

November 18, 1917

A Victoria Cross Doesn’t Keep the Flour Sack Full

John Chipman "Chip" Kerr (Grande Prairie Herald, Historical Edition ~1934)

John Chipman “Chip” Kerr (Grande Prairie Herald, Historical Edition ~1934)

There are several articles about John “Chip” Kerr of Spirit River, who won the Victoria Cross in World War I.  This is the first one I saw some time ago, and of course wound up doing more digging until I found his story.  I especially like this item; he certainly had a sense of humor.  He served again in World War II, becoming a service policeman at Sea Island in BC.  He retired in Port Moody, where there is a Legion Auditorium and a park named for him, and his home was declared a Heritage Site.  There is also a mountain in Alberta named after him.  It is splendid that ten years after the war when he was invited to London for an Armistice Dinner with the Prince of Wales, there was so much support to enable him and his wife to make the trip.

Some material from an account by Al Sholund on the Port Moody website

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ November 1, 1929

Grande Prairie Herald ~ November 1, 1929

 

A New Era for Education in Grande Prairie

The opening of the new Grande Prairie High School in 1950 was a milestone for education in the area.  It was one of two composite high schools in the province at the time.  It was an impressive building, both inside and out.  Mr. Kujath, who was the first principal of the new school, was still there when I attended the school in the 1960s.  At the same time, Wapiti Lodge, a dorm for County students, was opened.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

The Herald-Tribune ~ October 26, 1950

The Herald-Tribune ~ October 26, 1950

But I’m Just the Cook

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.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Northern Tribune ~ October 10, 1935

Northern Tribune ~ October 10, 1935

Thanksgiving Fights

The only Thanksgiving fights at our house were over the drumsticks, but in 1933 Frank Donald sponsored a full card of boxing on Thanksgiving.  Many local fighters were featured, as well as an orchestra to play during any gaps.  The event was started later for farmers to get to the fights after threshing, and the movies in Mr. Donald’s theater were timed to start after the boxing was over.  It’s not what would be considered a traditional Thanksgiving event, but no doubt it was popular.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ October 6, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ October 6, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ October 6, 1933

Grande Prairie Herald ~ October 6, 1933

The Great Potato Race

Jimmy and Peggy Mair of Grande Prairie in the potato garden, 1954

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.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Northern Tribune ~ 3 September 1936

Northern Tribune ~ 3 September 1936

Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune ~25 September 1941

Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune ~25 September 1941

Grande Prairie Herald ~ 18 September 1931

Grande Prairie Herald ~ 18 September 1931

Grande Prairie Herald ~ 18 September 1931

Grande Prairie Herald ~ 18 September 1931

Grande Prairie Herald ~ 13 September 1929

Grande Prairie Herald ~ 13 September 1929

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 7, 1934

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 7, 1934

Mayor & Councillor Clash Over Jurisdiction

Town councillors, Secretary-Treasurer Keyes, and Mayor P.J.Tooley (1934)

Town councillors, Secretary-Treasurer Keyes, and Mayor P.J.Tooley (1934)

Did the mayor exceed his authority?  This question was hotly debated at a town council meeting in September of 1938.  The subject was relief payments, which were paid by the town in those days.  Some councillors waffled, some chose sides, and one excused himself from the meeting!  In the end it was dealt with as these things so often are – they would wait and get a report, then deal with it later.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 15, 1938

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 15, 1938

Salesmen Suggest Testing Tanks on Muddy Peace Country Roads

View down the four tracked Mercer Hill road to Clairmont with power lines alongside, 1928

View down the four tracked Mercer Hill road to Clairmont with power lines alongside, 1928

“Any tank that can travel on the Peace River highways after heavy rains can do anything but fly”  was the consensus of a meeting held by commercial travelers in the Donald Hotel.   I am guessing that this was a pretty informal meeting, probably held in the ‘beverage rooms’ of the hotel.  Nonetheless,  the road situation was serious, and another article on the same page suggested urgent action to get the government to deal with the need to gravel the roads.    This item addresses the perceived  lack of interest in this area by the government – “this country is treated as an appendage rather than an integral part of the province.”

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 4, 1941

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 4, 1941

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 4, 1941

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 4, 1941

“Mark Well the Day”

Title quote from Father Giroux, who came to the Peace Country in 1896

It may be difficult for people here now to imagine what a huge thing it was in 1949 to have a bridge over the Smoky River.  The report says that at least 12 000 people attended the bridge opening in August.  To put this into perspective, the population of Grande Prairie in 1949 was 3700.  The population of the entire MD of Grande Prairie in 1946 was 9505, and the MD of Spirit River was 1404.  This means pretty much everybody in the country was at the Smoky for the celebrations!  There were more than 60 floats in the parade, each of which featured some episode of the days of the trail, and many oldtimers rode in the parade, including Father Giroux, who was over 80.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

The Herald-Tribune ~ August 25, 1949

A Partially Solved Mystery: Can You Help?

Standing, L-R: Mrs. Pring, George Pring, ? , ? , Grace Pring, Allan Mortensen, Hazel Medlock, Myland Mitchell Front: all unknown

Standing, L-R: Mrs. Pring, George Pring, ? , ? , Grace Pring, Allan Mortensen, Hazel Medlock, Myland Mitchell
Front: all unknown

When I was going through my mother’s pictures, I found some negatives of what looked like a wedding.  I had them developed, but could only identify my mother, Hazel Medlock.  The Archives staff weren’t able to help either, so the pictures were put away.  Recently I was going through the paper in my ongoing search for blog items and was so excited to find the write up of the wedding in Mom’s pictures.  From that, we could identify the bride and groom, her attendant (my mother) and best man.  Mary’s visit to Spirit River recently identified the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Pring (on the left).  That leaves five people to go!  If anyone could help complete this, we’d be very thankful.

Written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ August 18, 1938

Grande Prairie Herald ~ August 18, 1938