Soldier Spotlight: Private Thomas Rice

Image: A group of DeBolt homesteaders at the Sturgeon Lake Sports Day. Standing, left to right: Elbert DeBolt, Cy Young, Ove Nielson, and Tom Rice. Seated, left to right: Jack McLaughlin, Bill LeValley, Irene Cummings (first East Smoky teacher), Ellis Turner, Virginia De Bolt, Mary Walters, and George DeBolt. Used in “Across the Smoky,” p. 331. ca. 1925 (SPRA 116.09.01.01.0621)

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Regimental Number: 2288437
Rank: Private
Branch: Canadian Forestry Corps

Thomas was born on March 29, 1893 in International Falls, Minnesota. He came to Canada with his parents as a young boy, living first in Ontario and eventually coming to Alberta, where he was living at the time of his enlistment in April of 1917. Thomas went absent without leave from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM on October 16, 1917 and forfeited 24 days of pay as a result. On December 11, 1917, Thomas was injured accidentally. According to his service file, he was injured “while replacing the dogger on the carriage, Pte. Rice slipped, owing to the ice on the oak skids, and he foot was jammed between the log and the carriage and the skidway.” In April of 1918 Thomas was absent without leave overnight, and on June 3, 1918 he was absent without leave for two hours. While overseas, Thomas met Suzanne Chabau. They were married after the war, though Thomas spoke no French and Suzanne, a Frenchwoman, spoke no English. They came to the South Peace after the war and filed on the southern half of 2-73-3-W6 in 1919. They sold the homestead after thirty years and moved to Goldfields, Saskatchewan. Four years later they moved back to Edmonton. During World War II, Thomas was sent to work in a plant in Ontario. His family joined him once he got settled. Thomas died in Hamilton, Ontario on January 5, 1974.

Sources: Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 177

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference files

SPRA 510.12.18.041 Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimeters of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centered information publicly available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This featured item is from the Indigenous News reference file.  It is an article about Henry Louis Norwest, an Indigenous WWI veteran who had more confirmed sniper hits than any other soldier from countries in the British Empire. Norwest was born in Fort Saskatchewan in 1884 and enlisted in January of 1915.  He had 115 confirmed sniper hits, which means they were observed by another soldier.  He earned four medals for this achievement.  Another soldier described Henry Louis Norwest as being charismatic and quick witted.  Norwest died August 18, 1918 as he was about to pull the trigger on an enemy sniper when a bullet hit him just below his steel helmet.  He is buried near Amiens, France, which is north of Paris.

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, keep your eye on the blog for posts like this.

Holiday Hours

During the month of December, the Archives will be open limited holiday hours. During this time, there may be a delay in services. These limited hours allow our staff and volunteers to celebrate the holiday season with their families. It also allows our team to perform essential behind-the-scenes tasks to meet our mission and mandate. Thank you for your patience and happy holidays from the Archives.

December 6-20th

By appointment only

December 21st-January 2nd

Closed to the public

 

Soldier Spotlight: Gunner Frank Stevenson

Image: Dave Goodwin (left) and Frank Stevenson (right) standing beside a buggy. Used in “Across the Smoky,” p. 10. 1920 (SPRA 116.09.01.01.0078)

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Regimental Number: 2040193
Rank: Gunner
Branch: Canadian Garrison Artillery

Frank was born in Fredericton, PEI on November 27, 1889. He was living in Charlottetown at the time of his enlistment in December of 1916. Before going overseas, Frank had proposed to Edna Abbott. When he was discharged in 1919, Frank came west and filed on land at a SE 26-72-1-W6 and NE 24-72-1-W6. Eight years later, in 1927, he wrote to Edna to join him – she had written to him saying that if he didn’t have things ready, she was going to move on with her life. They had been engaged for eleven years. Frank and Edna were married on October 13, 1927. They raised their family of five children in DeBolt. Frank died in April of 1974.

Sources: surname file; Across the Smoky p. 36

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference Files

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimeters of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centered information publicly available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This item is an article about solving the Raft Baby of the Peace River mystery.  The author of the article, Harrold Fryer, explained that this story was a saga of tragedy and coincidence that remained a mystery for eighteen years.  The baby girl was found by her Uncle who did not know that the baby was his niece, he passed her along to a woman in a nearby Beaver camp who took care of her.  The baby was passed along to different families who cared for her until she reached the Vining family who formally adopted her.  Lilly Vining, the raft baby, did not know her identity for many years until the mystery was solved by Reverend Alfred C. Garrioch. Harrold Fryer’s article was adapted from Reverend Alfred C. Garrioch’s A Hatchet Mark in Duplicate.

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, keep your eye on the blog for posts like this.

SPRA 510.12.13.001 Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

Soldier Spotlight: Private Andrew Bisson

Image: Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.  From Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Regiment: Le Regiment de Maisonneuve, R.C.I.C
Regimental Number: M/106777
Rank: Private

Andrew Bisson was born on February 6, 1923 in St. Edward, Alberta. Born to French-Canadian parents, Elzear and Marie Anna Bisson, he was the youngest of ten children. At age 15 he completed Grade 7, and he was interested in baseball and hockey. When he was older, Andrew helped his brother on the farm and was a sawmill hand from 1940 to 1942. He was living in McLennan, Alberta when he enlisted in the army in on March 8, 1943. Since Andrew was mischievous as a youngster and had a daring nature, he volunteered for paratroop training. When he was only 21 years old, he was killed in action on July 22, 1944. He is buried in the Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in France. (Grave Ref: VI B. 7.)

Source: Trails and Rails North Vol. 2 pp. 99 and 120
Attestation Papers – Library and Archives Canada

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: Hobbema First Nations Family Group, ca. 1915. SPRA 0052.02-2002.57.01 Part of Field’s Studio fonds

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we are sharing some of these images and documents.

For seven years, American born Clarence Field operated a photograph business from his studio in Grande Prairie. He often took the show on the road in an old Model T van. With the Depression reducing the interest in expensive studio portraits, Field’s closed his studio in 1929 and returned to farming. After he died two years later, his wife moved out of the area. Field’s collection of glass negatives were held by various family, friends, and neighbours before finding their way to the South Peace Regional Archives.

Unlike many photographs taken of Indigenous people, this family is largely identified: Michael Buffalo’s family from the Hobbema First Nations in Central Alberta, left to right: Bella, Mary (Nepoose) Buffalo, Margaret, possibly Peggy (Allard) Buffalo, Michael’s mother. It is unknown who originally commissioned these images and for what purpose. Similar images in the Field’s Studio fonds were printed as postcards, which suggests they were posed for commercial reasons. Whatever the original intent for the photograph, for descendants researching their history, images like these can help make important connections to their past.

We have a relatively small number of images depicting Indigenous peoples at the Archives. The disparity between Indigenous and settler records can somewhat skew our understanding of the history of the region. If you have any records you would be willing to share, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Soldier Spotlight: Private Stanley Thorsteinson

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Regimental Number: 472689
Rank: Private
Branch: 54th Battalion

Stanley was born in Ísafjörður, Iceland on October 10, 1892. He filed on SW 18-74-8-W6 in July of 1915. In November of 1915, he enlisted in the Canadian Army. Stanley was wounded on November 18, 1916 at 6:30 AM, twenty minutes after his battalion went over the top at the Somme. He suffered from shrapnel wounds to his right knee and the right side of his head. Stanley was moved two miles by stretcher, and invalided to Canada in March of 1917. On November 30, 1917, he was discharged, having been found medically unfit as a result of his injuries. In 1920/1921, Stanley filed on a second homestead at NW 8-74-9-W6. By this time, he was married to Dorothy Lettice Wilson. Stanley and Dorothy left the area in 1923. Stanley died on December 7, 1957.

Sources: Buffalo Trails p. 219

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference Files

Image: SPRA 510.12.18.015 Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimeters of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centered information publicly available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action. This project was made possible with funding support from Young Canada Works.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This item is an article from the Daily Herald Tribune in 1980 about members of the Grande Prairie Friendship Center performing a rain dance in Bear Creek Park to help farmers in the area who were battling with dry fields. The nine members pictured, who are unnamed, were joined by the Mayor Al Romanchuk.  Joe Campbell also joined in full regalia despite being on crutches. The article says that the dance must have worked as it rained the next day!

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, keep your eye on the blog for posts like this.

Soldier Spotlight: Douglas Blackie

Douglas Blackie (Memories & Moments p. 276)

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Douglas Blackie was born and raised in Edmonton, and attended a year of normal school and a year at University of Alberta studying Engineering. After his studies, he moved to Spirit River and became the teacher at the White Mountain School, where he taught from 1933 to 1936. In 1939 he married Alice Brown in Spirit River. Douglas joined the Air Force in July 1942 and was trained in radar and wireless communication. He was discharged in June 1946 and returned to teaching in the Spirit River School. Because he was going to operate the “Blackie Radio Electric” business, he resigned from teaching in 1950. Becoming the Post Master in 1954, Douglas also was a member of the town council for nearly ten years. Both Alice and Douglas enjoyed involvement in several musical and dramatic productions in the school and the United Church. In 1969 he was elected National President of the Canadian Postmasters Association, which required a move to Ottawa. When he retired, they moved back to Spirit River. Alice and Douglas had 3 children: Stuart, Heather and Patricia. Douglas died at age 89 in Grande Prairie in May 1999.

Source: Memories and Moments p. 76 Photo in uniform p. 276
Chepi Sepee p. 183 Photo in uniform