UPDATE – Beaverlodge’s First Double-Murder?

Was this case ever solved?

In 1914 Leonard Stephens came to Canada from England. He made his way to the Peace Region and filed on 16-72-10-6 as well as 27-72-10-6 near Beaverlodge. Another Homesteader Samuel Timmins filed on 22-72-10-6.

Both men were trappers and set out together in 1922 to check their lines. Leonard’s family realized that he and Sammy were late on returning and contacted the R.C.M.P.

The R.C.M.P. investigation turned up the bones of the men and a grisly discovery – the men had been killed by bullets to the back of the head.

In 1926 a notice was placed in the newspaper for claimants on the estate of Leonard Alfred Francis Stephens.  It states his date of death as on or about February 15, 1923.

Grande Prairie Herald Sept. 13, 1926


Leonard was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Goodfare.

Less is known about Samuel Timmins; I am not even sure where he was buried.

This story was brought to the attention of the archives by a researcher. If you know anything more, let us know and we will share it with the interested party.


Today the person interested in this case has informed us that this was not murder after all but a case of men who were inexperienced in dealing with the harsh weather in the area. More information can be found in an article in the Shoulder Strap (a Police publication) July 1940 or by calling or visiting SPRA.


Photo: Beaverlodge, 1930

Source: Information on the murder victims was found in Beaverlodge to the Rockies p. 35-36

Written by Researcher Patricia Greber


New Photos At SPRA

A collection of photographs is one of the newest donations we have received at South Peace Regional Archives. The photographs date from 1916-1920s, and have been passed down through the Arnold family.

The Arnolds traveled on the first train that came to Grande Prairie, settling in the Bear Lake district. Edward Arnold, along with his wife Sadie, daughter Louise and son Joe, first rented land from the Patrick family and then settled on NE 12-73-8-W6. Louise attended Big Horn School and later worked as a teacher at Currie School. Mrs. Arnold served as the Niobe postmistress from 1918-1919 and sadly losing her husband Edward in December of 1919.

The pictures depict life in the Peace Country in those early days.

L-R unidentified lady, Mrs. Bredin and Louise Arnold at Bredins in 1921.


*top photograph – Currie school students with teacher Louise Arnold

Source: La Glace book “Yesterday and Today” p.154 and information provided by the donor.

SPRA looking for New Executive Director

SPRA looking for New Executive Director

South Peace Regional Archives Society is seeking a resourceful, energetic person with a commitment to preserving local history for the position of Executive Director. The director is responsible for management and leadership in the Archives and supervises three additional staff members.


  • Relevant degree in Business, History or other suitable discipline.
  • Willingness to train in Archival practices.
  • Ability to promote the Archives in the community.
  • Strong organizational and communication skills.
  • Aptitude for independent decision making and acting with initiative.
  • Supervisory and interpersonal skills to motivate staff and volunteers.


SPRA is a community archives funded by four municipal governments, and is an institutional member of the Archives Society of Alberta.

For more information, the full job posting is available here.

Please forward a resume and cover letter no later than May 5, 2017 to director@southpeacearchives.org.

Serendipity at the Archives

At SPRA we often come across donations that intersect, a photograph or document in one collection can help tell the story about a completely different collection or seemingly unrelated person. An occurrence of this happened last week, I happened to glance over to see what Karen was working on when a photograph caught my eye. It was the same photograph of two men playing chess that I had posted to our Facebook page, with the hopes of learning the player’s names.


Karen was working on a donation of records from the Grande Prairie Golden Age Centre and voila, here were my chess players pictured in their scrapbook fully identified, my questions answered.

Karen Burgess processing the Grande Prairie Golden Age Centre scrapbook


To put this in perspective, donations can sit on our shelves for 2-3 years before we get to them and add in the coincidence of looking to identify a picture from a separate collection, then there is the fact that processing started on a collection containing the same photograph, and lastly noticing the photograph while Karen was examining the scrapbook. Definitely one for the books!

So now I am happy to report that the names of the people in the photograph are Frank Rennie, Soren Frederickson with Dorothy Tarrant watching. In the back ground is L-R Reg Eyres, Harry Rogers, Fred Towns and Bary Eyres.

By Researcher Patricia Greber

Work in Progress: Bill Turnbull fonds

Above photograph: Bill Turnbull out for a run, 1976

Bill Turnbull was an educator and photographer in Grande Prairie through the seventies and up to the early 2000s. He was also very active in the running community in Grande Prairie, being one of the members of the old Grande Prairie Legion Track and Field club who helped found the Wapiti Striders Road Running Club.

Between 2013 and 2016, Bill donated over 10,000 photographs to the SPRA. Processing of these records has now begun. On the donation form, the receiving archivist noted that the photographs relate to local running clubs. As I work through the arrangement and description project for this collection, it turns out that the contents are about more than just running.

The photographs in this collection were taken to record the activities of local people many of you probably know. Almost by accident, they have also recorded a history of the urban and rural spaces these people lived in. The site featured in some of the photographs is Muskoseepi Park. The area seems more like a rolling meadow. The trees are so sparse and small. The Heritage Village has very little tree cover and is easily viewed from a distance. It feels like I am looking at the childhood photos of someone I just met.

That is one of the interesting things about records: even the creator is not always aware of the story he is recording. When Bill Turnbull donated his photographs, he said they were about running. The collection is more than that. It is also about people working together for a common cause, people enjoying their life and their youthful vitality. It is also about Grande Prairie and the communities around it. It is going to take a while to process these “running club” records but I think the story they will ultimately tell will be a large one.

by Archivist Josephine Sallis

The Heritage Village, 1988

Fashions in Farming – The Tractor Farmers

The Teepee Creek news correspondent looked around the neighbourhood and began to wonder if there was something to be said for power farming. The writer appears to have been one who favoured farming with horses, but was beginning to have some doubts. The references to the Wheat Pool seem to hint at dissatisfaction with the organization. Since its founding  in 1923, the Pool had had its ups and downs and not all the member farmers agreed with some of its policies and practices.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Photograph description – Arnold Christianson with his discing outfit, a steel wheeled tractor and disc, 1928.


The Grande Prairie Herald Nov 1, 1929

The Grande Prairie Herald Nov 1, 1929


All in a Day’s Work

It sounds like Vernon Conners ran into the snowstorm and cold that we talked about in the Thursday File last week. He was taking supplies in to Peter Comeau who was trapping along the Porcupine River, and on his return Vernon recounted the harrowing tale of John Connolly, who had to climb a tree to escape a pack of wolves.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Northern Tribune Nov.21, 1935

Northern Tribune Nov.21, 1935


Photograph description – #175.035.07,  Bruce Fjellner in front of his log cabin with furs from wolf and bear trapped about 1936 or 1937. Bruce was born June 9, 1901 in Sweden and married Selma Soderquist in 1934.

Early Spirit River Records Found at a John Deere Dealership

It’s one of those hard to believe stories but we have these new-found records.

The Spirit River Museum approached us as they had a dilemma, a wonderful record of early immigration to the area which they were keeping housed in a glass case. This was great to preserve it but not so great for people being able to access the information. The Museum wanted to know if we could offer a solution, our reply was we could definitely help. We also were curious to know how they acquired them.

Their reply was a surprise! It seems the local John Deere dealership had two very old looking books and the information on where they had come from seems to have been lost. The dealership assumed these books contained records of early transactions from their business, until one day someone took the time to look inside. That is when it was discovered that these books were Immigrant Registers containing information on early settlers arriving in Spirit River from the dates 1917-1930. Listed inside the book is the names of people who came to stay at the Spirit River Immigration Hall.

The original negative for this image is at the Glenbow archives. To order reproductions cite call number ND-3-5332

Photograph from the Bill Pratt fonds 107. The original negative for this image is at the Glenbow archives. To order reproductions cite call number ND-3-5332


These Immigration Halls were located in many communities in the west, and upon arrival to a community that had one of these halls an immigrant could check in and be offered a warm dry place to stay. It was a good option for settlers who were waiting for their large items to arrive on the train, or were still looking for a place to homestead. The registers recorded: Name, Nationality, Age, Port of Entry, Proposed Destination, Occupation, Date of Arrival, Date of Leaving and Remarks. The register listed all family members, including the names of the children.

Sample from the Spirit River Immigrant Register. August 31, 1917.

Sample from the Spirit River Immigrant Register,  August 31, 1917.


Our suggestion was that we could scan the registers, providing them a copy and the pages enclosed in sheet protectors. The whole thing turned into a binder for museum guests to look through, eliminating the worry about the originals. South Peace Regional Archives could safely store the original books in our temperature controlled storage room. They quickly agreed, and so we got busy!


Scanning the Immigrant Hall records.


One thing that struck us as interesting while scanning these registers is the range of nationalities; Belgian, American, French, Canadian, British, Irish to name a few. Something else that caught our eye was the wide variety of final destinations such as Blueberry, Pouce Coupe, Waterhole, Grizzly Bear, Rolla, Cut Bank, Wanham, Bad Heart, Grande Prairie and so on. A sample of items in the remarks column include “returned soldier”, “looking for homestead”, or “time extended waiting for money”!

A huge thank you goes to the John Deere dealership who hung onto these books and to the Spirit River Museum for their help in making these records accessible to the public.



Career Opportunity: Full-Time Archivist

South Peace Regional Archives is seeking an Archivist for a full-time, continuing position beginning November 1, 2016. The Archivist oversees the process of acquisition and the preservation of archival records. S/he participates in developing educational programs and events to enhance public awareness, and reports to the Executive Director.

South Peace Regional Archives is a community Archives, established in 2000 and funded by four municipalities. There are three staff members. It is currently housed in the Grande Prairie Museum, with a new building planned for in 2017-2018. The job description can be viewed on the website at www.southpeacearchives.org.


  • A degree in Archival Studies, Library and Information Studies, History or related discipline.
  • A solid understanding of the principles and standards of archival science.
  • Familiarity with primary historical research techniques.
  • Awareness of Canadian and Alberta history.
  • Strong organizational, communication, analytical and research skills.
  • A strong aptitude for independent decision making and acting with initiative.


Salary Range is $42,000-$55,000 (commensurate with education and experience)

Please forward a resume and cover letter no later than September 30, 2016 to South Peace Regional Archives Executive Director at director@southpeacearchives.org.


Here is the complete job description:


South Peace Regional Archives

Archivist Job Description

The purpose of the South Peace Regional Archives Society is to encourage the appreciation and study of the history of the south Peace River Country of Alberta by acquiring, preserving, and making accessible to the public, records in any format which reflect the cultural, social, economic and political history of this area. The Archivist at South Peace Regional Archives oversees the process of acquisition, preservation and accessibility of archival records. S/he participates in developing educational programs and events to enhance public awareness. S/he works with and reports to the Executive Director.

Responsibilities and Activities

  1. The Archivist draws on extensive knowledge of archival science to acquire authentic records of enduring value to develop a “full spectrum holdings”; meaning a full range of both public and private records related to the south Peace River Country of Alberta regardless of media.
    1. Appraises records offered for donation to determine whether or not they should be acquired.
    2. Guides members of the public through the records donation process, advising them on the legal transfer of ownership, and negotiating access and use conditions.
    3. Maintains the accession register and the accession files.
    4. Assists in producing and implementing policies and procedures regarding acquisitions.
  1. The Archivist supports the mission and business goals of the SPRA by overseeing the physical control and permanent preservation of the records.
    1. Evaluates and assigns use and value priorities to the archival holdings so that the appropriate preservation and conservation measures are applied to the records.
    2. Performs tasks and supervises the preservation activities of archival technicians, volunteers, contractors and interns.
    3. Examines the records and uses technical knowledge to identify formats and determine specific care and storage requirements.
    4. Provides instruction to other staff, members of the public, and other institutions on the proper care, handling, and preservation of records of all media.
    5. Assists with grant applications for preservation projects.
  1. The Archivist establishes intellectual control of the records according to national archival standards.
    1. Conducts research to determine the provenance, arrangement, composition, scope, informational content, and internal and external relationships of the records.
    2. Prepares detailed descriptions about the structure, function and content of the records and records creator according to the Canadian Rules of Archival Description.
    3. Reformats the material as necessary for public access, including scanning and uploading to provincial databases and the SPRA website.
    4. Manages the reference library in the reading room by assigning Library of Congress numbers to each volume.
    5. Assists researchers and members of the public, providing access to holdings and advising them with respect to provincial access and federal use legislation.
    6. Processes requests for reproductions of photographs and digital media.
  2. The Archivist participates in planning educational programs and special events in accordance with the South Peace Regional Archives Society’s goal to promote appreciation for the historical resources and culture of the south Peace.
    1. Develops exhibits to increase the profile of the SPRA.
    2. Provides archival education by conducting workshops, giving presentations, and writing articles for publication.
    3. Participates in provincial and national associations, advisory boards and cross-government initiatives to foster partnerships with various stakeholders groups.
    4. Provides professional advice to archives staff and members of the public.
    5. Provides advice regarding national and provincial legislation as it relates to archival practice.
  1. Performance and Evaluation.
    1. The Archivist position carries with it a probationary period of six months, during which time employment may be terminated by either party without penalty.
    2. A formative evaluation of the Archivist will be conducted by the Executive Director on an annual basis to support the goals of the organization and the individual.
    3. A summative evaluation will be activated only in extreme situations.


Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • A degree in Archival Studies, Library and Information Studies, History or related discipline. A Master’s Degree is preferred.
  • A solid understanding of principles, standards and methodology of archival science and records management, and proven skills in the interpretation and application of archival theories.
  • Familiarity with primary historical research techniques and trends and awareness of the needs of disciplines that utilize archival sources.
  • Awareness of Canadian and Alberta history, political climate, and social context in which records were created.
  • Good understanding of system requirements for the Archives.
  • Strong organizational, communication, analytical and research skills.
  • Supervisory and interpersonal skills to motivate staff, volunteers, members of the public, outside organizations and other stakeholders.
  • Good conflict resolution and negotiation skills.
  • A strong aptitude for independent decision making and acting with initiative.

A Vacation for Mother watermarkThis article made me laugh out loud! The idea of Mother having a vacation away from kids and husband is a good one, but the amount of work suggested to prepare to leave the family for a few days, is a bit much. I think today things would be better if Mom decided to get away for a bit. More men are comfortable in the kitchen, plus there are lots of fast food places!

Written and Researched by Kathryn Auger


DHT July 26, 1932





vacationing end