Records and Reconciliation: [Kleskun Hills Park Tipi]

Image: [Kleskun Hills Park Tipi] (SPRA 002.05.02.221)

In 2020, the South Peace Regional Archives launched a major project, titled “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records,” with financial support from Library and Archives Canada. The purpose of the project was to increase awareness of and access to Indigenous-related records within the Archives’ collections: by re-appraising, describing or re-describing, and digitizing more than 300 records in 70 fonds. This project is vital step in the Archives’ ongoing work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are now able to share these records with the community.

This week, we are showcasing a photograph from the Beth Sheehan fonds (Fonds 002). The image, from 1999, shows a tipi in Kleskun Hills. The caption on the back of the photograph says “Teepee for rent $5 a night.”

Kleskun Hills has a rich history and deep sacred value to Indigenous communities. The name is believed to originate from the Beaver word for “white mud.” It has long been utilized by Indigenous peoples for gathering, hunting, burials, and other spiritual purposes. The region is Canada’s northernmost badlands ecosystem and home to one of the largest pieces of grassland remaining on “the grande prairie.” It is also home to a heritage museum, which was first established in 1993, and park managed by the County of Grande Prairie on behalf of the province.

Would you like to learn more about the Indigenous presence at Kleskun Hills or share your knowledge? Consider joining the Indigenous History Committee! Contact the Archives for more information.

Movie Monday: Riverboating

Image: A film still showing a man in a treehouse cache (SPRA 0253.01.11, Fonds 253: Jerry Stojan family fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie

Of the many boating excursions that have been shared over the course of Movie Monday, most have included only one or two boats. But in this film, a significantly larger party of vessels and men is seen embarking on an expedition. Given Jerry Stojan’s interest in big game hunting, it is safe to assume that this footage is from a hunting trip.

A crowded boat launch is shown at the beginning of the film, followed by a cabin (perhaps some sort of hunter’s lodge), and a food cache. Caches, also known as bear boxes, protected hunters’ food supplies from being devoured by wildlife. In this case, the cache was a permanent structure that looked rather like a tree house. Where permanent bear boxes were not available, makeshift caches called bear bags could be constructed by simply hanging the supplies from a tree branch. However, if the bag was not hanging far enough from the branch, trunk, and ground, it would prove quite ineffective!

Check back next week for our final Movie Monday post!

From the Vault Friday: Soap Box Derby

Image: SPRA 2002.30.3

Todays “From the Vault Friday” features a program from the South Peace Regional Archives Paper Artifact collection (fonds 501). The program is for the 1st Annual Soap Box Derby from 1956 in Grande Prairie on Clairmont Road. The winner would advance to the Canadian Finals in Mission B.C. The first place winners in both age groups won a bicycle valued at $50, around $486.62 in today’s money.

Read more about the South Peace Regional Archives Paper Artifact collection (fonds 501) here.

 

From the Vault Friday is a social media campaign that highlights interesting materials from the collections of the South Peace Regional Archives. This project was made possible by an Access to Holdings Grant from the Archives Society of Alberta.

Farewell SPRA! A Reflection on my Student Work Term

Above: Archives Assistant (Student), Kaydence Redding, processing an album from the Hines-Sutherland Family fonds.

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to return to the South Peace Regional Archives (SPRA) in my former role of Archives Assistant (Student). Once again, my summer spent at SPRA has been incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. I have learned more about the important role archives play in preserving our history, and I am proud to have played a part in this through my various processing projects. Over the last four months I completed the processing of two new fonds, the Bezanson Community Blooms fonds (645) and the Hines-Sutherland Family fonds (679). I also processed an accrual to the South Peace Regional Archives Sound Recording Collection (504) which consisted of 4 interviews of former Alberta Provincial Police Officers. Additionally, I worked on a newspaper inventory and rehousing project, during which I was able to inventory and rehouse over 2.5 meters of newspapers!

While processing was among my favorite activities this summer, I was thankful to work on projects such as the #ThrowbackThursday Facebook campaign, hosting an online education session with the Grande Prairie Public Library, and writing Telling Our Stories articles. All of these activities focused on public outreach and helped me build connections to the communities and people of the South Peace throughout my work term.

For me, one of the more important aspects of my role this summer was the work I did on projects related to Reconciliation. This included working on the Library and Archives Canada funded project “Reclaiming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records”, presenting a virtual session with the Grande Prairie Public Library on our findings from the Indigenous Records project, and writing articles about Indigenous-related content to be featured in future Telling Our Stories magazines. An additional resource I worked on, that I hope will have long lasting impact, was the Indigenous Records Research Guide that can be found on the SPRA website. The vast amount of material available on our website may make it hard to know where to start when researching Indigenous history. In order to help with this, the research guide compiles lists of the fonds, library books, reference files, and Telling Our Stories articles within the archives collections that have Indigenous-related content in order to make this content more easily accessible for everyone.

After my first work term at SPRA last summer, I was inspired to switch my field of study into something that would allow me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Archival Studies in my future. After spending a second summer immersed in the archival world, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. These past four months have taught me so much about the possible obstacles and victories that come along with working in the archival field. Every piece of information that I gained throughout the last two summers has left me immensely excited to learn more in the future, and reinforced my desire to become an archivist one day. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to have worked at SPRA once again, I will greatly miss getting to collaborate with SPRA’s amazing staff, Stephanie and Teresa, and the ability to immerse myself in the history of the South Peace on a daily basis.

This post was contributed by Kaydence Redding, the Archives Assistant (Student). This position is made possible thanks to funding from Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations.

Records and Reconciliation: Treaty 8 Centennial

Image: Treaty 8 Centennial Pamphlet, 1999 (SPRA 007.04.11)

In 2020, the South Peace Regional Archives launched a major project, titled “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records,” with financial support from Library and Archives Canada. The purpose of the project was to increase awareness of and access to Indigenous-related records within the Archives’ collections: by re-appraising, describing or re-describing, and digitizing more than 300 records in 70 fonds. This project is vital step in the Archives’ ongoing work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are now able to share these records with the community.

The item we are highlighting this week is a pamphlet from the Spirit of the Peace fonds (fonds 007). The Centennial Commemoration of Treaty 8 was a four-day event which combined a large gathering near Grouard, Alberta, Treaty signing re-enactment, dancing and other ceremonies by the Indigenous communities included in the Treaty District (who planned and directed the proceedings) and a two-day academic conference conducted by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation, with papers presented by scholars and spokespersons from across Canada. The general theme of the gathering included commemoration of the federal government’s unfulfilled promises, and differing interpretations of the original agreement. The academic papers were published by Grande Prairie Regional Lobstick magazine (Volume 1), as Treaty 8 Revisited.

Examine the websites posted by the Treaty 8 tribal councils and see if they continue to assert their rights to the treaty being honoured more strictly by the government. Are the same disputes evident for Treaty 7 Indigenous councils?

Soldier Spotlight: Private Robert Beavins Tilt

Image: Newspaper clipping from the Grande Prairie Herald, 5 December 1916.

Regimental Number: 1251121
Rank: Private
Branch: Canadian Forestry Corps

Robert was born in Pelee, Ontario in November of 1874. He owned a livery and restaurant in Lake Saskatoon village before the war. Robert enlisted in the Canadian Army in November of 1916, a decision he made based on the outcome of a coin toss (see December 5, 1916 news clipping). After the war, he filed on homesteads at NW 5-72-8-W6, SW 12-72-9-W6, and SW 8-72-8-W6. Robert dyed his hair in an attempt to look younger so he could enlist in World War II, but was sent home. He died on August 10, 1948 and was buried in the Lake Saskatoon Cemetery.

Sources: Pioneers of the Peace p. 66; Lake Saskatoon Reflections p. 30, 33, 225; GP Herald Sept 2, 1913 p. 1 c. 3; Aug. 19 1948 p. 3 c. 3; Jan 25 1916 p. 1 c. 5

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this 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.

Movie Monday: Grande Prairie Parade and Peace River Trip

Image: A film still showing the Dunvegan ferry (SPRA 253.01.04, Fonds 253: Jerry Stojan family fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Today’s film from the Jerry Stojan family fonds (ca. 1954) features several points of interest in the Peace Region, such as the Dunvegan ferry and the view from Twelve Foot Davis’ grave.

The Dunvegan ferry was installed by the provincial government in 1909. It consisted of heavy decking on top of two pontoons, and was connected to a cable that had been strung across the Peace River. It took approximately 30 minutes to cross the river on this ferry. In the 1940’s, the government replaced it with a power ferry. A suspension bridge was finally built in 1960, opening on August 31, and it continues to hold its status as Alberta’s longest vehicle suspension bridge. The power ferry was moved to Tompkins Landing, where it operated from 1961-1987; it is now on display at the La Crete Mennonite Heritage Village.

Like the Dunvegan crossing, Twelve Foot Davis is an icon of the Peace Region. Henry Fuller Davis was born in Vermont in 1820, and in 1849 he headed to California to search for gold. He wasn’t very successful, so he travelled north to the Cariboo gold fields. By the time he got there, most of the prime land had already been staked out. But despite being unable to read or write, he was well aware of the laws regarding the size of claims, and he soon found a way to get his own piece of land. On Willow Creek, two miners had established lucrative claims adjacent to one another and Davis noticed that they were wider than the prescribed 100ft per claim. He approached the commissioner and asked for a legal re-surveying, and indeed, together the two claims measured at 212ft wide. Davis quickly claimed those extra 12 feet, from which he extracted between $20,000 to $30,000 of gold – about half a million dollars in today’s currency. Eventually Davis came to the Peace River area, where he worked as a fur trader; forming alliances with French Canadian, Cree, and Metis traders, he competed against the storied Hudson’s Bay Company. He died in 1900 at Lesser Slave Lake Mission and in 1912 his remains were buried on Grouard Hill as part of a promise once made to him.

This film shows the Stojans crossing on the Dunvegan ferry and enjoying the views from Davis’ grave. There is also footage from a parade along Richmond Avenue, and many scenes of Chuck and Linda growing up on the farm.

Only two more weeks of Movie Monday to go! We have so enjoyed sharing these films with you and will be sorry to see the project come to an end. Be sure to stay tuned for the final two films!

From the Vault Friday: Rifle Registration

Today’s “From the Vault Friday” features a certificate of registration for a rifle from the Pierre Lozeron family fonds (Fonds 006). The gun, registered early 1942, was a .22 Shur-Shot single (?) action rifle that Pierre used for hunting. The certificate was signed by someone at the Grande Prairie RCMP detachment. At the time, it wasn’t required for the firearm to have a serial number, but it was unlawful to alter or deface numbers. During World War II, you had to register rifles and shotguns, but this was discontinued after the war ended.

For more information on the Lozeron family, visit Fonds 006: Pierre Lozeron family fonds.

From the Vault Friday is a social media campaign that highlights interesting materials from the collections of the South Peace Regional Archives. This project was made possible by an Access to Holdings Grant from the Archives Society of Alberta.

Records and Reconciliation: Wabasca Store

Photograph: Wabasca Store, [1963]. (SPRA 0002.05.06.294)

In 2020, the South Peace Regional Archives launched a major project, titled “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records,” with financial support from Library and Archives Canada. The purpose of the project was to increase awareness of and access to Indigenous related records within the Archives’ collections: by re-appraising, describing or re-describing, and digitizing more than 300 records in 70 fonds. This project is a vital step in the Archives’ ongoing work toward Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are now able to share these records with the community.

This photograph is from the Beth Sheehan fonds (Fonds 002). It depicts children standing in the doorway of the J. H. Houle General Store in Wabasca, in 1963.

Wabasca, also known as Wabasca-Desmarais, is a hamlet in northern Alberta, approximately 123 km northeast of Slave Lake. The name ‘Wabasca’ originates from the Cree word paskâw, meaning “white grass” the name for the Wabasca River. According to the 2016 census, the community is home to 1,406, largely Indigenous, individuals. Another 2,157 residents live on five reserves in the immediate surrounding area. Stores such as the J. H. Houle General Store were the nerve centres of many communities; central locations where people gathered to purchase needed items and share the news of the day.

To view more digitized images of Wabasca and area, visit Alberta on Record. Do you remember stores like this? Contact the Archives to share your memories!

Movie Monday: Porcupine, Smoky, and Peace Rivers

Image: A film still showing a group of fishermen in the river (SPRA 1974.74.22E, Fonds 138: Griff James fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie

As we have seen over the course of the Movie Monday initiative, swimming, boating, fishing, and hunting were some of the most popular pastimes in the South Peace during the 1950s and ‘60s; many films from that era focus largely on one or more of those activities. This film from the Griff James fonds includes footage of all of the above!

What is particularly special about this film is that it brings together two of Movie Monday’s most featured families – the Jameses and the Stojans. The families shared very similar interests, so it is not surprising to find that they enjoyed outings together. In this video, we see the children playing in the water, and various family members boating on the river. Interspersed among these shots of family outings are scenes of a forest fire and an airplane excursion.

At the end of the film we see fathers and sons hunting and fishing along the river; the James and Stojan parents were obviously eager to pass on their love for adventure and the outdoors to their offspring, and the children shown in the film seem happy to comply!

There are only three more Movie Monday posts to come, but remember that you can watch these films and many others on our YouTube channel!