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

Jim Ferguson. 1940. SPRA 0179.04.03 Part of Mary Belcourt Davis fonds (cropped)

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 would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

“Jim Ferguson, son of St. Pierre Ferguson and Philomene Callihoo, served in World War II along with his brothers Malcolm and Henry.” Jim was one of the over 3,000 Indigenous people who served during the war. We know only a few of the stories of our South Peace Veterans, and fewer still for Indigenous veterans.

If you have any stories you would like to share about your service, or the service of family members, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Soldier Spotlight: Private Alfred Cox

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: 1039075
Rank: Private
Branch: 239th Battalion, Canadian Railway Construction Corps; 6th Canadian Railway Troops

Alfred was born on May 30, 1882 in London, England. He filed on a homestead at 23-76-3-W6. When he enlisted on July 7, 1916, Alfred wrote in his will that he bequeathed all his real estate to “some wounded returned soldier, who wishes to file on a homestead.” Towards the end of the war, he suffered severely from flat feet. Alfred died in Edmonton on August 26, 1963.

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

Photograph: Sturgeon Lake Café, N.D. SPRA 0175.084.04 Part of Valleyview & District Chamber of Commerce Millennium Photograph collection

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 would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

This photo (SPRA 0175.084.04) is from the Valleyview & District Chamber of Commerce Millennium Photograph collection; the photographs were gathered by Mary Ellen MacGregor for the “Journey to the Millenium” collection sponsored by the Valleyview and District Chamber of Commerce.

The photo is captioned “Pierre ?, Bella Badger (Joyce), Teddy Desjarlais, and Pete Joyce in front of the Sturgeon Lake Café, also called Taylor’s.”

If you know who Pierre is, have stories about young Indigenous culture, or Sturgeon Lake Café let us know! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105 to share any memories or information you have.

Soldier Spotlight: Francis Victor Tanner

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: M45546
Date of Birth: 1 April 1921
Regiment: 29th Canadian Armoured Regiment

Enlisted in Grande Prairie, Alberta on 14 June 1940.

Francis Victor Tanner (known as Fran) was born in 1921 in Mazanod, Saskatchewan. In the late 1920s the family moved to Grande Prairie where his father prepared ice for the Grande Prairie Curling Club in the Wapiti Arena.This was his introduction to the world of sports. During the Depression, Fran and the local boys played hockey wherever a patch of ice could be found and cleared of snow. When World War II began, Fran enlisted in the South Alberta Regiment and served his country in A Squadron 29th Canadian Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment in NW Europe as a radio operator. He returned to Grande Prairie in 1945 and picked up his interest in sports again. During his first winter home, he was hired by Bill Bessent to help make ice and operate the arena. For a brief time Fran played hockey in the South Peace Hockey League, but he is remembered more as the sports broadcaster on CFGP. His career there began in 1952 as a transmitter operator but soon developed into almost 20 years of announcing hockey games’ play-by-play and providing game analysis and conducting interviews. The South Peace Hockey League recognized his popularity and contribution to hockey by awarding him The Most Valuable Player, and later he became the first media person to be recognized as a Grande Prairie Hockey Legend. Fran died in Grande Prairie March 27, 1984. Fran was a brother to Vera, wife of Jack Soars, who also became a CFGP radio personality.

Photograph: Don and Fran Tanner, 1943 (SPRA 364.01.03)

Fonds 364 Francis Victor Tanner fonds

Telling Our Stories: Coming Soon!

Keep an eye out for our upcoming edition of Telling Our Stories all about the Old West! This magazine will feature articles about women in the rodeo, wild horses, Treaty Eight, the Sturgeon Lake Games, the Lake Saskatoon Games, and the Peace Country Land Settlement database. The Old West edition will come out in early September so keep your eye on the website to find the digital copy, or become a member to have the physical copy mailed to you!

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

Photograph: Buying Fur. 1954. SPRA 0175.021.05 Part of Valleyview & District Chamber of Commerce Millennium Photograph Collection

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 our 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 would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The original caption for this photograph reads, “Jim Clark, a clerk of the Sturgeon Lake Hudson’s Bay Store, buying fur from Francis Moostoos in 1954.” The fur trade often is considered a part of our distant past but this photograph provides evidence of its importance to local communities well into the modern age.

While fur trade records often provide tantalizing clues about the lives of the Indigenous peoples, the evidence comes from a settler perspective. What furs are trading hands? How important was fur trading to his economic and cultural life? Was he satisfied with this economic relationship? These are questions we cannot answer from this image.

If you have any stories, documents, or photographs that that document the history of the local fur trade from an Indigenous perspective, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Soldier Spotlight: George Hawke Hiffernan

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: 101471
Rank: Private
Branch: 8th Battalion

George was born in County Cork, Ireland on July 1, 1887. He came to the Peace country in 1914 to help put up telegraph line. George enlisted in Lake Saskatoon in October of 1915. He was wounded twice during the war; a gunshot wound to his left thigh in September of 1916 at the Somme, and once again to his left leg in May of 1917. George’s leg was fractured when he was shot the second time, and after it had healed, his left leg was about 2.5 inches shorter than the right. In his discharge papers, George stated: “I may say I have never received reparation for my mother, whom I can honestly say needs the money. Otherwise I am quite satisfied with everything. I am my mother’s sole support.” George married an Englishwoman from Bristol, who came to Canada on the first ship carrying civilians to North America after the Armistice. He died on August 10, 1973 in Victoria.

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

Photograph: July 1st Sports Day, ca. 1910. SPRA 0056.01.003c-2 Part of Harry Tuffill 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 would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

This photo (SPRA 0056.01.003c-2) is captioned “Indians Racing, July 1st 1910” at Saskatoon Lake Sports Day.” This photo is part of the Harry Tuffill fonds; it was taken by Harry Tuffill while he was in the Peace Country with Walter McFarlane’s survey crew.  Our records do not identify the people in this photo, so if you may know who they are or have other stories about local Indigenous entertainment we would love to hear it! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Soldier Spotlight: Michael Cashaback

Photograph: Community reception for approximately 100 men in civilian and military clothing during World War II, 1942 (SPRA 1969.39.723)

 

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.

The only son of Nicholas and Pauline Cashaback, Mike was born on November 15, 1919 in Cochrane, ON. He moved with his family from Ontario to Edmonton in the mid 1920s, and 2 years later to Esher (now Silverwood near Rycroft) where he received his education to grade 8. In 1941 Mike joined the Canadian Army as a blacksmith, but was employed as a cook. Later he became a provost (with the military police). Mike married Evelyn Betty Lamper on July 21, 1942. While in Holland, Mike was wounded on March 19, 1945 at Niemagen, and he sailed back to Canada on the hospital ship S.S. Nelson, returning to Silverwood. After the war, Mike tried farming, then worked as a blacksmith and in a lumberyard. In 1958 he became the Rycroft Village Policeman. The Cashaback family had 4 children by this time: Michael, Ozann, Gail, and Debra, and they moved to Grimshaw AB in 1962. There Mike continued police work until 1964, and began building houses for J. B. Tissington in Grimshaw and Peace River. When Evelyn Betty and Mike divorced in 1975, he moved to Madeira BC, keeping active in the Legion and Lions club. He passed away in Vancouver on November 9, 1981, and his ashes were spread on Pender Harbour, his favourite fishing spot.

Source:
Chepi Sepe p. 183 (photo)
Wheatfields and Wildflowers p. 461

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

Image: Sturgeon Lake. 1911. SPRA 0032.08.08.1008 Part of Campbell family 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 our 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 would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The government keeps documentary evidence related to its ongoing relationship with Indigenous peoples and communities. So too, the people in the communities. The caption for this photograph reads, “John Stocks (left), first Deputy Minister of Public Works, and A. H. McQuarrie (tallest man in centre) with several First Nations men and children at Sturgeon Lake.”

This seems like an important moment for this community and yet we have no idea who these community members were. Were they the leaders of the community? What is the event the photograph is documenting? When did this event occur? Having an answer to any of these questions might provide evidence that lead us to answers for the rest.

Like most archives in Canada, the story of the relationship between the government and Indigenous peoples tends to be one-sided. We are hoping to bring more balance to that story at the local level. If you have any stories that might shed some light on this photograph, please let us know. If you have any documents, photographs, or stories that document the history of the relationship of Indigenous peoples with government officials in the South Peace region, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.