Fonds 012 Wally & Doris Tansem fonds


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1909-2000. — 21.5 cm of textual records. — 48 photographs.

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Biographical Sketch

Wallace Tansem was born in Wanham, where his father, Peter Tansem, ran the first store and Post Office. His school years were spent at South Slope school, and he farmed in the Wanham area with his family as a young man.

In 1945, Doris Williams came from Edmonton to teach at the South Slope school. She married Wally in 1946 and remained in the village for more than 50 years.

Always having a strong interest in the little community, Wally & Doris were involved in many activities over the years. In 1958, when Wanham became a Village, Wally was elected the first Mayor. In 1962, they took over the Post Office which had been established by his father. In 1969, with the help of his friend Lawrence Laughy, Wally began to produce a small weekly newspaper. Approximately fifty issues were written before the project folded, but it was resurrected for a time in 1975.

In 1970, Wally became the first president of C.O.C.O. (Community of Coordinating Organizations), a group whose aim was to coordinate all the activities in Wanham which required funding, a place to meet and an executive to make decisions. This group went on to create a fund-raiser, the Wanham Plowing Match, which would see yearly visitors and contestants from across Western Canada.

In 1983, Wally retired from the Post Office, and in the late 90s, the couple moved to Grande Prairie.

Wally died in 2001 at the age of 74.

Custodial History

Records in this fonds came in two separate donations. The first donation, accession number 2000.17, was in 2000 and was made by Wallace Tansem. The second donation, accession number 2014.50, was in 2014. This second accession was donated by Brenda LaCroix, Tansem’s daughter, and Doris Tansem. They were in possession of these records after Wally’s death in 2001. The records in this accession were originally compiled by Wally and Doris Tansem, with additions made by Brenda LaCroix.

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of four photographs of the South Slope School and students taken during Doris Tansem’s time teaching in 1945-46; weekly issues of the Wanhamite, a community newspaper written by Wally Tansem and Lawrence Laughy; printed material authored by Wally Tansem; 20 aerial photographs of the Lassiter area north of Wanham; some news clippings; and Wally’s research files for his self-published book “Foulest of Murders”.


Title based on the contents of the fonds.
Related records: Community of Coordinating Organizations.

Table of Contents

Series 012.01 Personal Papers
Series 012.02 South Slope School
Series 012.03 The Wanhamite
Series 012.04 Book File
Series 012.01 Personal Papers. — 1926-1992. — 2 cm of textual records. — 20 photographs.

The series consists of printed material written by Wally Tansem, aerial photographs he took north of Wanham in the Lassiter area, and clippings showing the interests of the Tansems. Clippings include a Nor’-West Farmer magazine from May 1926, and articles on the 1992 Quebec Referendum.

Aerial Photographs of the Lassiter Project, 1970 c.
20 photographs; colour; 4 x 6
The Lassiter area, north of Wanham, was the scene of a failed agricultural scheme following the Second World War.
Location: 0012.01-20
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Series 012.02 South Slope School. — 1945-1946. — 4 photographs.

South Slope School District is the official body governing Wanham School. It was formed in 1917, and the first school opened in the home of Eli Barrett with Mrs. Duncan Cameron as teacher. A one-room school was built in 1919 and a second classroom opened in a local business in 1936. A new two-room school, financed by debentures, was built in 1939 and used with the old school as a third classroom. In 1946 two more classrooms, a library and a science lab were added to the existing school and the old school converted to a teacherage. During this time, Doris Williams was a primary teacher for grades 1 to 3.

The series consists of 3 class photographs from Grades I to III, and one picture of the teacherage, which was Doris William’s first home in Wanham.

Grade One at Southslope School, 1945-1946
1 photograph; b & w; 2.5 x 4.5
Doris Tansem’s first grade one class at Wanham: (back row L to R) Robert McCarty, Alec Posty, Frank Kasprow, and (front row) Lorraine Sather, Annette Prevost, Beverly Fowler, and Mary Manzulenko.
Location: 0012.21
Grade Two at Southslope School, 1945-1946
1 photograph; b & w; 2.5 x 4.5
Doris Tansem’s first grade two class at Wanham: (back row L to R) John Metz, Barbara Karpinski, Bonnie Evanchuck, Helen Sveinanggaard, Arnold Fortier, and (front row) Roger Girard, Ilene Kasprow, Maxine Quamme, Patsy Netheny, Jeannette McCarty, and Ruth Harrington.
Location: 0012.22
Grade Three at Southslope School, 1945-1946
1 photograph; b & w; 2.5 x 4.5
Doris Tansem’s first grade three class at Wanham: (back row L to R) Frank Budny, Arne Jacobson, Gerald Blonski, Taras Putio, Johnny Bramlet, Dennis Bush, Lyall Tansem, and (front row) Alice Metz, Denise Prevost, Evonne Moulton, Ann Sather, Delphine Lampert, and Kay Laughy.
Location: 0012.23
South Slope School Teacherage, 1946
1 photograph; b & w; 3 x 4
Doris Williams Tansem’s first home in Wanham was the teacherage at Wanham School.
Location: 0012.24
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Series 012.03 The Wanhamite. — 1969-1970, 1975. — 4 cm of textual records.

The Wanhamite was a community newsletter compiled and written by Wally Tansem and Lawrence Laughy. The newsletter contained local news items, organizational reports, notices from the Village of Wanham, items of social interest, sports news, an “advice” column, advertisements and classifieds, as well as stories, poetry and humour. Weekly issues of 6-8 pages were distributed for 1 year from February, 1969 to February, 1970; then the paper was revived for 11 months, from January to November 1975.

The series consists of weekly issues of The Wanhamite from February 24, 1969 to February 21, 1970 and from January 29 – November 4, 1975.

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Series 012.04 Book File. — 1909-2000. — 15.5 cm of textual records. — 24 photographs.

This series consists of copies of records that are held at other archives including the Provincial Archives of Alberta, correspondence, newspaper articles, photographs, and manuscript pages from the book “Foulest of Murders”. These records were collected and created while Tansem was researching and writing his book. This book was published by Wally’s wife, Doris, and daughter, Brenda, after his death.

012.04.01 Dick Knechtel 1920-1922,1928,1949,1982

This file contains a copy of a July 16, 1928 Alberta Provincial Police Crime Report summarizing the 1918 Grande Prairie murders; photocopies of newspaper articles; a copy of Alexander Peebles’ deposition at Richard Knechtel’s hearing on February 9, 1921 for the murders of Ignaze Patan, Charles Zimner, and Frank Parzychowski; a copy of a crime report listing Knechtel as a suspect in four murders; a copy of a resolution passed by the United Farmers of Alberta about Richard Knechtel along with a copy of a written response from the Attorney General; and a copy of trial examination of Rosie Knechtel, William L. Caldwell, and John Pazychowski by Nicholson and Mr. Eagar (Solicitor for Accused).

012.04.02 Dan Lough 1918-1927

This file contains: a copy of a document written by Inspector and Chief Detective J.D. Nicholson about Dan Lough and the events that occurred the night of the Snyder murders; a copy of a statement made by Daniel Lough on July 18, 1918; a copy of the biography of Dan Lough by Young Harmon as it appears on page 826 in the book “From Wagon Trails Grown Over”; a handwritten list of Lough and Swygart family members in Illinois from the 1850 United State census; a copy of Lough’s death record; a copy of land title records from San Jose listing Daniel Lough; and a handwritten list of the members of the Lough family and their birth dates. On the back of this document is a description of the injuries sustained by the murdered men.

012.04.03 Trial of Dan Lough 1920, 1928

This file contains: a copy of a document that lists key people in the Dan Lough trial and a statement by Chief Inspector Nicholson; copies of newspaper articles about the 1920 trial; a copy of a statement made by F.A Baxter; and copies of various crime reports regarding Dan Lough and the trial.

012.04.04 Trial 1920

This file contains information about the 1920 trial of Daniel Lough for the murders of Stanley and Joseph Snyder. There is a copy of a document that recommends a reward for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person who committed the six 1918 murders; photocopies of newspaper articles; a copy of a letter regarding money owed to Dr. Conroy for his participation in the trial; copies of various crime reports; a copy of the Report of Committal to commit Daniel Lough for trial in the murders of Joseph and Stanley Snyder; a copy of a document that lists Fred Pluff as Wanted for Murder by the Alberta Provincial Police; a copy of a report regarding custody of Lough’s children; and a list created by Wally of files to look for at the Provincial Archives, and people he should contact.

012.04.05 Lakowski Dec. 28, 1919

This file contains a copy of a December 28, 1919 Alberta Provincial Police Crime Report that lists Harry Lakosky as a suspect in the murders of Patan, Wudwand, Zimner, and Parzychowski.

012.04.06 Keeler 1918, 1920, 1929, 1935

This file contains handwritten notes about Keeler; a copy of the Statutory Declaration of Alberta Provincial Police employee Samuel Raymond about his role in apprehending Earl Salisbury and Norman Keeler (who was injured during this event); a copy of a statement made by Miss I. H. Taylor, Keeler’s nurse at the Grande Prairie Hospital; a copy of Keeler’s statement in his application for relief due to permanent injuries he received from the Provincial Police; a copy of Keeler’s biography as written by Keeler; a copy of a letter that lists all of Keeler’s past convictions; a copy of a letter written by Keeler’s wife; a copy of a Memo for File regarding compassionate allowance for Norman Keeler; a copy of a 1918 crime report regarding theft by Keeler and Salisbury; and photocopies of newspaper articles.

012.04.07 Snyder Inquest 1918

This file contains two copies of Dr. Joseph Herbert Conroy’s sworn statements during the Snyder Inquest; a copy of an Alberta Provincial Police report on the autopsy; two copies of the Inquisition form for the Snyder deaths; several copies of the full Snyder Inquest proceedings which contains interviews with James Dunlap, Daniel Lough, Benjamin Harmer, John McAuley, Alexander Peebles, Carl Erstad, and Albert Vilo Thompson; a copy of James Carrol Dunlap’s statement; a page of Wally’s manuscript with hi-lighted sections; two copies of an Alberta Provincial Police crime report; and a drawing of the Snyder crime scene.

012.04.08 Patan Inquest June 28, 1918

This file contains one full copy of the Patan Inquest proceedings, and one partial copy of the same document. The Patan Inquest proceeding contains interviews with Thomas Marshall Newton, Detective Sargent Eagen (APP), Alexander I. Peebles, William L. Caldwell, Thomas Foote, Vernon Seymour Snowden, George Silvester, Dr. H.J. Conroy, Dr. M.L. MacDonald, Eurylee Salisbury, William Fletcher Bredin, Andrew Hobal, and Francis Belcourt.

012.04.09 Suspects 1919-1920

This file contains a copy of an Alberta Provincial Police Crime Report from July 29, 1918; two photocopies of newspaper articles; and a copy of a document that names several individuals associated with the murders written by Nicholson.

012.04.10 Belcher Hugh 1918

This file contains copies of correspondence written by Pearcy Hugh Belcher, the coroner for Grande Prairie, listing monetary costs associated with an Inquest; a copy of correspondence from Belcher justifying his request for reimbursement for attending the murder scene on July 25, 1918; a copy of account fees of the coroner, witnesses, and jury for the Inquest held for the Snyder murders; and the sworn oath of Marjorie Isobel Clarke.

012.04.11 Nicholson 1917-1918,1920,1928,1945

This file contains a copy of an expenditure sheet from investigating the 1918 murders; copies of various crime reports that were written by Nicholson in August and December 1918; a copy of an Elock report; copies of newspaper articles; a copy of a letter with information about Frank Parzychowski; a copy of a report about blood stained money; copies of documents and letters about Nicholson detailing his years of service and resignation; a copy of Nicholson’s theory for Dan Lough being the murderer; a copy of F.A. Baxter’s statement; and other information about Nicholson.

012.04.12 Elock’s Reports 1918

File includes copies of reports completed by William Elock during his time working undercover for Nicholson. They recount both his actions, and what he saw and heard while undercover.

012.04.13 Crime Reports 1918

This file contains copies of correspondence regarding Frank Parzychowski’s estate; a copy of a crime report from August 6, 1918; a copy of a crime report from August 15, 1918; and a copy of a crime report from September 15, 1918.

012.04.14 Correspondence 1992-1997, 2000

This file contains incoming and outgoing correspondence for Wally Tansem related to his research into the 1918 murders. Correspondence is to several different archives and historical societies asking for information, descendants of people involved in the case (Snyder, Lough), and a graphologist. Along with email correspondence with a graphologist, there are handwriting analyses for Daniel, Harry, Richard, and Joseph done by Darlene Dawe. Their last names are not included in the analyses. This file also contains a copy of a birth certificate for John and Nellie Lanham.

012.04.15 [Descendants Research] 1997

This file contains correspondence written by Wally to possible descendants of Daniel Lough; a copy of the birth certificate of John and Nellie Lanham; information on how to perform genealogical research at several different archives; Sean Lanham’s biography that was taken from his personal website; and several different lists of people with the same last name. One list was for Lanham, one for Barnes, and one for Nicholson.

012.04.16 Birth + Death Certificates 1907-1908,1918,1976,1993

This file contains a verbatim record of death for Anne Jane Lough and Walter Ernest Lough; a copy of the Alien Registration Card for Joe Harlen Lough; a copy of a birth certificate of Jane Elizabeth Lough; a copy of the death certificate of David Keating; and copies of the birth certificates of Joseph and Charles Lough. File also includes a copy of a page from the Register of Deaths that list all of the 1918 murders.

012.04.17 Signatures 1909-1920

This file contains copies of various documents including Land Patents, Inquisition forms, sworn statements, Patent applications, correspondence, Land Grants, and Applications for Homesteading. All of these documents contain the signatures of people associated with the 1918 murder investigations and trials.

012.04.18 Maps 1966, [199-]

This file contains a map called “Springs and Flowing Shot Holes, Peace River District, Alberta” which has hi-lighted sections. It also contains several township grid maps of Township 72, Range 6, West of 6th Meridian filled in by hand with owners names.

012.04.19 Newspaper Clippings 1918-1920,1923,1958,1996

This file contains copies of newspaper articles that relate to the 1918 murders. File also contains a Warrant to Summon Jury dated June 24, 1918.

012.04.20 Misc. 1918-1920, [199-]

This file contains pages of typed manuscript for “Foulest of Murders”; a drawing of the exhibits showing where the bodies were located; copies of newspaper articles; a copy of the summary of cases entered and convictions obtained during 1918; handwritten notes; a photocopy from an unknown book; and contact sheets for photographs from the Royal Bank Archives Photograph Collection.

012.04.21 Pictures 1993, 2000

File contains photographs and photocopies of photographs that Wally took or collected to use in his book. Photographs are of the Lough family, grave markers and plaques, fishing spots, and various houses.

012.04.22 Wally’s Book 1918-1921

This file contains a copy of a Warrant to Summon a Jury for June 24, 1918; photocopies of newspaper articles; a copy of the typed statements of Dr. Conroy from the postmortem of Joseph and Stanley Snyder; copies of various crime reports and a report from Elock; copies of correspondence; pages from the “Foulest of Murders” manuscript; and a photocopy of a chapter about the 1918 murders from an unidentified book.

012.04.23 Research Book n.d.

This file contains a table of contents corresponding to the numbered pages found in the remaining part the file. These documents consist of photocopies of records and newspaper articles that are found elsewhere in this series. They also consist of descriptions of the people involved in the criminal investigation of the 1918 murders.

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