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.
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; and some newsclippings.
Table of Contents
South Slope School
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 photograph; 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
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
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.