Lost & Found

South Peace Regional Archives’ oldest documents met up with some of their youngest ‘descendants’ Friday, 4 August. Judy, along with her two granddaughters, stopped by to look for records related to John Davis. Davis, they recently discovered, is a long-lost ancestor. As luck would have it, a copy of the will is currently on display in the Village as part of the SPRA’s History of the South Peace in Ten Documents. We brought out the Davis, Hodgson, Coulter papers, including the original will, for her see. Judy shared family history with her granddaughters as they examined the documents in the file. Besides the will, the collection includes calling cards, photographs, and mortgage papers. Judy also filled us in on some of the family history, including identifying family members in the image below. As luck would have it, she has the same photograph at home. It was a remarkable day for the archives and for the family.

Photograph: L-R. Douglas Alexander Currie; Mary Harriet Louise Davis Currie; Robert Davis Currie; George Currie, as recently identified by Judy. Mary and George Currie are her grandparents. Robert is her father and Douglas is her uncle.

~Archivist Josephine Sallis

Save the Date

The Friends of the South Peace Regional Archives invites you to save the date for our upcoming fall event, the Great War Gala. This event will be a night to remember with dinner, dancing, displays from our collections, and more.

A silent and live auction will be held to raise money for the South Peace Regional Archives. Sponsorship opportunities are available; if you would like to receive information on our sponsorship opportunities or be added to our contact list for tickets please call or email the archives at 780-830-5105 or director@southpeacearchives.org.

Every Thursday leading up to the event, our blog will have feature a lighthearted list to prepare you for the Gala; we will be showcasing fun facts, great reads, fashion trends, famous battles, and trench slang.

 

 

Work in Progress – Bill Turnbull “Weaving Lives”

Still at this project. In my defense, it is a huge collection. Bill was a teacher for over 40 years and active in the running community. An avid photographer, he produced thousands of photographs that remind me of this quote: “Every person’s story weaves in and out of another person’s story.” The photographs I’m describing now which depict the Brian Harms Memorial Run are a touching example of this.

Brian Harms began running in 1976 and became one of the top runners in provincial track and cross- country. He switched to road running in 1980 and competed in the first Jasper-Banff Relay that year. Brian Harms was also a founding member of the Wapiti Striders Road Running Club of Grande Prairie. At the time of his death in November 1986, he was the club president.

In his honour, the club changed the name of their 10-mile road race to the Brian Harms Memorial Run. It is touching to see friends and family running and walking in his memory year after year, with new names cropping up as time goes on. Young and old alike are enjoying an activity with a group Brian was instrumental in forming. He touched so many lives then and continues to do so today.

I feel very privileged to be able to work with these records and witness how peoples’ lives intersect. There are some great people and stories waiting here at the South Peace Regional Archives. Hopefully, yours will be here one day waiting for someone to find you again and marvel at all the lives you touched.

By Archivist Josephine Sallis

Surprise Party at the Archives

On Thursday, June 29, staff and volunteers surprised South Peace Regional Archives’ founder and executive director Mary Nutting with a potluck luncheon, celebrating her achievements in preserving the history of the South Peace.  We’ll miss Mary’s presence and expertise at the archives after her retirement, but we know she’ll continue to support the archives and pursue her passion for history.

All the best, Mary!

A gift of Depression glass and flowers for Mary from the museum

Karen Burgess presenting Mary with her gift from the archives staff

“A party without cake is just a meeting.” ~Julia Child

It Takes a Community

The archives is the proud owner of a wonderful new-to-us map cabinet.

A big thank you goes to Weyerhaeuser for donating it to house our maps.

Getting the cabinet to the archives was no easy feat and we would like to send out thank yous to:

  1. The County for transporting the cabinet to us.
  2. Willie Braun for making the trolley for our cabinet to sit on
  3. Parks for giving us a hand getting the cabinet off the truck
  4. City Transport for their willingness to be here and assist with the off-loading
  5. Tim Moore from the GP Museum for always helping us out

Just like our pioneers who came together to work on big projects the archives appreciates all their friends who help us out when we need it!

Hythe Homecoming Collection on SPRA Website

A new collection from the Hythe Homecoming committee has been uploaded to our website.  The collection consists of photographs and documents that were collected by Grace Wideman for the Memory Lane at the Homecoming. The pictures truly tell the story of Hythe through the years 1927-2007, including photos of students, businesses, sporting events, community buildings, and much more.

Six kids on bikes on Main Street Hythe, Alberta, l-r: Gary Reid, Jane Inkster, Brenda Smith, Vernon Mutch, Brock Smith and Jim Moody. Dixon & Hill Store and 2 cafes in the backgroumd, one being the U.N. Café.

Visit Hythe Homecoming 2016 fonds on our website to read more about the collection and enjoy as you tour through Memory Lane.

Spring Cleaning at the Archives

Recently, as part of our Integrated Pest Management program (IPM), the SPRA held its first annual spring cleaning bee. You may be thinking, “Integrated Pest Management! Does the archives have bugs?” No and yes. Technically, most bugs are not true bugs, they are insects. (I know a gardener who takes the terminology very seriously and I do too as a gesture of solidarity). So, no bugs in the archives. But the occasional spider and millipede does get in there. Both eat other insects. Luckily, the spiders like whatever it is they put in the pest traps and the millipedes seem to starve to death so the records remain safe.

IPM is less about dealing with a pest problem and more about preventing a pest problem.

Material coming in is inspected. Any items that look suspicious are quarantined. Pest traps attract wayward critters and give us an indication of what is wandering in. But the most important preventative activity for our IPM is housekeeping.

We regularly clean our working space but the storage shelves are a bit trickier. In both the unprocessed area and the processed storage vault, the shelves are full of boxes. Not something that gets dusted every day. Or week. Or month. It is a big job. Not a job for one or even four staff, only one of whom is here full time. The job needed doing and we needed help so we called in our volunteers. It was a great fun day of dusting, reorganizing, and out with the old.  (Empty boxes only. This is an Archive after all) We followed up all that hard work with a potluck lunch.

A few shelves in the vault still require dusting and a pest spot check in the bottom rows of boxes. It won’t be as exciting now that Meg isn’t here to scare me with, “Oh my gosh! This one is huge!” Thanks, Meg. I  had skipped my cardio that day and needed to get my heart rate up.

While it wasn’t all done, we accomplished a lot. More than just cleaning. It was great to get all the volunteers and staff together. We’re not all in at the same time and catching up helps us bond as a team. Volunteers were able to see more of the archive than they usually do. They are generally very focused on their projects and don’t get to see the other work areas. And last but not least we were able to assure ourselves, by moving around boxes and checking files, that the SPRA really is in good shape. If we ever do encounter a pest problem, we’ll be better able to pinpoint the possible causes and determine solutions because we have limited the possible start time to some time after June 2017.

That is a lot of value for a cleaning bee at the Archive. Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers and staff who made it happen.

by Archivist Josephine Sallis

What A Collection

Ethel Vader’s Golden Jubilee Senior Citizen Award

I always like it at the archives when someone comes in carrying boxes, which happened last month. My next favorite thing is when I hear there are more boxes at home.

South Peace Regional Archives is now home to a wonderful collection of information from the Grimm, Vader, and Scott families who lived in the Rycroft area. The collection consists of hundreds of negatives, photographs, account books, certificates, WWII letters, etc., the list is long and extensive. One item from the collection is a certificate that was given to residents of Alberta on its Golden Jubilee in 1955. The certificate in this collection was given to Ethel (Scott) Vader. Ethel was born in North Dakota in 1888, moving with her family to Calgary as an infant. Ethel and her husband Dan moved to Spirit River where they remained for many years.

These extensive family records still need to be processed by our Archivist but will be a great benefit to historians and family researchers in the years to come.

By Research Archivist Patricia Greber

 

Work in Progress: Bill Turnbull fonds Part 2

It has been a very busy few months meeting people, attending workshops, and researching for the Canada 150 display. Some days I get to be an archivist and work at my ongoing arrangement and description project, the Bill Turnbull fonds.

One of the great things about Bill’s records is that the photographs and files came with a list of titles and dates for sets of photographs. Some of the photographs are individually labeled. This is a dream come true for an archivist. While we do not require that collections be organized before they are donated, we do love when there is an original order we can follow. The arrangement process moves faster for one thing. For another, a discernible original order provides for a better understanding of the context in which the records were created and used. We can be confident we are not messing with the history or contextual information contained in the record.

Sadly, one of the tasks I am spending a lot of time on is carefully scraping sticky residue off photographs. Bill’s photographs are generally in very good condition but a number of them have spent time glued or taped into scrapbooks. It is a bit tedious and I sometimes think, “These photographs are not even that old; maybe this is overkill.” That is my age speaking, though. Some of these photographs are almost forty years old. Not quite as old as me but still old-ish. And with good care, these photographs will be really old someday. Old enough that someone will marvel at the health and vitality of their sixteen-year-old great-grandmother captured in a still image.

That is one reason why we do what we do at the SPRA. Record creators like Bill start the process of preserving evidence of the past by capturing moments and information they feel have value. We help those documents and photographs, and anything else people are generous enough to create and donate, weather the passage of time so they too can become one of the “old-timers” future researchers marvel over.

By Archivist Josephine Sallis

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