Rehoming History

Although the archives is still closed to the public, our staff have been hard at work completing behind-the-scenes work to achieve our institutional goals. With the closure of the reading room and cancellation of public events, we have been able to dedicate more time to processing records for public use.

Vital to processing is determining what material our repository will keep and what will be deaccessioned. Deccessioning is a routine procedure of removing materials from the holdings that occurs while appraising or reappraising archival records. There are many reasons why we might choose to deaccession materials. In some cases, materials may not be useful or relevant to our mandate. They may also be deaccesioned if they cannot be properly stored, preserved, or made accessible. Where possible, these concerns are generally addressed during the donation process, before the materials are accepted. However, there are always items that require further examination before a decision can be made, particularly when accepting large archival donations.

In recent months, we have identified a number of books and pamphlets within our unprocessed holdings that were originally intended for the SPRA reference library. On closer inspection, these books were not local to the South Peace and thus did not meet the mandate of our institution. After consulting with the donors of the books, we determined that the best method of deaccession would be by transfer to another archival institution. Our staff created an inventory and reached out to our fellow institutional members of the Archives Society of Alberta to find a home for the books. The response was overwhelmingly positive! We have now successfully relocated 26 books to new homes at archival institutions across Alberta. These were carefully (and colorfully) packaged by Archives Assistant Kaydence and mailed out last week. The books will now be able to serve their intended purpose in the communities that will benefit from them most.

Now Hiring

The South Peace Regional Archives is currently hiring two contract positions to assist with upcoming projects: Archives Technician (Indigenous Records Project) and Archives Technician (Multimedia Project).

Are you interested in Indigenous records, Reconciliation, or historical photographs? The Indigenous Records Project will examine records within 56 fonds, previously identified as containing Indigenous content, in order to provide culturally-appropriate descriptions and contextual information. The project will increase access to approximately 300 Indigenous-related archival photographs and paper artifacts through digitization and promotion on social media.

Are you interested in film, educational outreach, or social media? The Multimedia Project will increase public access to the South Peace Regional Archives’ film collections using our YouTube, blog, and Facebook page. By increasing access to our archival films, this project will help us educate, inform, and inspire our community on local history.

Visit for full details of both positions.

Welcome, Stephanie!

The South Peace Regional Archives is pleased to introduce the newest member of our team. Stephanie Friesen has recently moved from Vancouver, BC to work as the new SPRA Archivist. Please join us in welcoming her to Grande Prairie and the Archives!

Hello everyone, my name is Stephanie Friesen and I originally hail from a small town in Manitoba. I recently graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Masters in Archival Studies. Before starting my master’s degree in BC, I completed an undergraduate degree in Archaeology at the University of Saskatchewan. During my time completing that degree, I was fascinated to learn how archival sources contributed immensely to a particular archaeological study. I also wanted to be able to facilitate research and widen people’s knowledge into the past (without personally digging in the dirt). This led me to becoming an Archivist!

My most recent position before coming to the South Peace region was as the Archivist and Records Manager at an independent school in Metro Vancouver. Another previous position I held was as a Collections Assistant at the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. In that position I was involved in a digitization pilot program where I digitized records held at a partner institution in order to make them more accessible to Survivors and other researcher through the RSHDC’s website. Before that, I was a records management co-op student with a large department at UBC where I was involved in a server migration project. I also spent a summer working for the Rossland Museum & Discover Centre as their Assistant Archivist.

I’m so excited to be the new Archivist at the South Peace Regional Archives and to begin learning all about this community. I look forward to meeting with many of you in the future.

Soldier Spotlight: Captain Arthur Craig

Image:  Convalescent home at Paignton, Devon, England, 1918 (SPRA 1969.59.331)

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.

Rank: Lieutenant; Captain
Branch: South African Cavalry; South African Infantry; Royal Air Force

Arthur was born in Cape Town, South Africa on February 22, 1889. He served in West Africa and France with the South African Army during World War I. Arthur was severely wounded at Delville Wood during the Battle of the Somme on July 16, 1916. A citation reads:

“A bombing party under Lieut. Craig attempted to rush across 40 yards of ground which lay between the British and enemy trenches. Coming under very heavy rifle and machine gun fire the officer and the majority of the party were killed or wounded. Unable to move, Lieut. Craig lay midway between the two lines of trench, the ground being quite open. In full daylight Pte. Faulds, accompanied by two other men, climbed over the parapet, ran out, and picked up the officer, and carried him back, one man being severely wounded in so doing.”

Arthur eventually arrived in the South African Military Hospital in Richmond, England, having been taken to the dressing station and then by stretcher bearers to the South African Hospital at Abberville, the closest to the front line. Once he healed, he left the South African Infantry and joined the Royal Flying Corps (later the RAF). It was with the Corps that he was shot down in the observational balloon, again injured, this time receiving the steel plate in his head.

In 1919, Arthur came to the Peace Country with his brother George and filed on homesteads at NW 7-73-11-W6, NW 12-74-11-W6, and NE 12-73-12-W6. He canceled all three. Arthur met his wife, Marjorie Lily Marshall, in Edmonton in 1924. He later worked in silver mines in different parts of Idaho. Arthur died in Idaho in 1958 (1968?).

Sources: news clippings

Cecile’s Western Birds

If you’ve received your copy of Telling Our Stories, you will already have had a glimpse inside the “Western Birds” book written and illustrated by eleven-year-old Cecile Sandboe Angen in 1931. Cecile’s family contributed a digitized copy of this book, as well as a selection of family photographs, to be shared in our magazine. The following biography was written by Cecile’s daughter, Gail Risvold.

It is appropriate to write about my mom in this edition of your magazine because she was always interested in birds.  She put bird feeders out and she took great pleasure in observing which birds would come to visit.  One time when she was visiting us in Hinton my husband Ross and Mom sat on our patio and watched the different birds that came for a drink in our backyard pond.  I decided it was time to clean the pond and put in fresh water but I also added an ingredient that got rid of algae.  The instructions stated that it was safe to use and it would not cause harm to any animals including birds.  BUT the birds did not agree!  They did not come back for a drink and I felt bad because I deprived Mom of the pleasure they had experienced. They quickly drained the water without me knowing and the birds returned.

Mom started school in Taco, Saskatchewan.  Then the family moved back to LaGlace and she attended Buffalo Lake School, a one-room schoolhouse.  Mom and her siblings would walk 3.5 miles each way and in winter they traveled to school with a horse and sleigh.

Mom was very responsible and obedient.  Ted Heimdal sat behind Mom in school.  He would bug and aggravate Mom on a regular basis.  One day Ted kept poking Mom with his stick pen.  Mom got so mad she smacked him with her ruler.  The class, including the teacher, heard the smack.  Mom thought she would get in trouble but instead she noticed Mrs. Maple turn away to hide her smile.  I guess she thought Ted deserved what he got.

Mom was also a hard worker, a wonderful cook and a great home maker.  She was intelligent and very creative.  She started oil painting later in life and did fantastic paintings.  We laughed at her when we played Pictionary because she was not able to draw a simple, quick picture.  She painstakingly tried to draw a perfect picture but she always ran out of time.

Mom was the daughter of Carl and Clara Sandboe.  She was born on September 27, 1920 in LaGlace.  She was their first child and she was delivered by a midwife in the house where Ed and Guero Torgerson lived, about a mile north of LaGlace. Carl and Clara had six other children and the bond was very strong with the Sandboe family.

Mom married Olaf Angen on June 21, 1941.  They had three children – Garry, Gail and Rosemarie.  They had four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.  Family was so important to Mom and she treasured time spent with family members.

Mom lived her final years in Pioneer Lodge and she died on December 7, 2015 at the age of 95 years.

View Cecile’s “Western Birds” here

Carl and Clara Sandboe and their family on their La Glace farm, ca. 1939. Back: Eunice, Cecile, Clara, Carl Front: Raymond, Talbert, Chester, Cyril, Gordon. Contributed by Cecile’s family.

Closed to the Public

On March 16th, the South Peace Regional Archives closed to the public, amid rising cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) throughout Alberta and the rest of Canada. This closure resulted in an abrupt halt to all in-person donations, research requests, and volunteer work at the Archives as well as the cancellation of all public outreach events. The Board of Directors voted to postponed the AGM, originally scheduled for March 28th, until further notice.

The safety of our staff, volunteers, and members of the public remains the Archives’ first priority. The Archives will remain closed to the public until it is possible for us to reopen safely. Updates on the Archives’ services, including any plans for reopening, will be posted on our website and Facebook page.

While the South Peace Regional Archives remain closed to the public, our staff have been hard at work completing vital behind-the-scenes tasks to support our mission of gathering, preserving, and sharing the historical records of our region. Archives staff are also available via phone and email during regular business hours to provide remote research assistance. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Welcome, Kaydence!

Kaydence Redding is a first year Political Science student at the University of Alberta and the latest addition to the Archives team. Welcome, Kaydence!

Kaydence will be working with us this summer as the Archives Assistant (Student) to gain practical experience in the Archives and learn more about the cultural heritage sector. She will be working on content for Telling Our Stories, projects related to the Indigenous History Committee, and launching a new #ThrowbackThursday social media campaign.

Kaydence has become passionate about the importance of sharing and preserving local history through her studies as a Political Science student, as a prolific local volunteer, and as a past president of Charles Spencer High School’s social justice club, “The Maverick Movement”. She is very excited to be working with the Archives this summer!


National Grant Supports Reconciliation Project

Photograph: Beaver Camp on the Beaverlodge River, 1911. SPRA 0024.01.05.01

The South Peace Regional Archives is launching a new Reconciliation project, made possible Library and Archives Canada’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program (DHCP).

The project, called “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records” will utilize records related to Indigenous peoples within the collections of the Archives. The project will examine records from 56 fonds previously identified by the Indigenous History Committee as containing Indigenous content, in order to provide culturally-appropriate descriptions and contextual information. It will increase access to approximately 300 Indigenous-related archival photographs and paper artifacts through digitization and promotion on social media. Through consultation with the Indigenous History Committee, the project will enable Indigenous peoples to engage in the identification of photographs and paper artifacts from the South Peace Regional Archives.

For more information on the project, or on joining the Indigenous History Committee, please contact Executive Director Alyssa Currie at

This project has been made possible in part by the Documentary Heritage Communities Program offered by Library and Archives Canada / Ce projet a été rendu possible en partie grâce au Programme pour les collectivités du patrimoine documentaire offert par Bibliothèque et Archives Canada

In Memory: Mary Nutting

The South Peace Regional Archives is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our founding Executive Director and dear friend, Mary Nutting. Mary passed away on Monday, April 20, 2020 after a two year battle with breast cancer.

Mary discovered her passion for history after spending a year in England and subsequently discovering the rich history of our local region. After several years of volunteering at the Grande Prairie Museum, Mary completed an initial survey to identify the locations of archival records of the South Peace. In 2000, she became the founding Executive Director of the South Peace Regional Archives, where she worked for the next seventeen years.

One of Mary’s great passions was connecting people to their history. She enjoyed exploring the family collections and helping people in their “treasure hunts” through the Archives. Mary once shared this particularly memorable encounter:

“Not long after the Archives opened in 2000, I received a request to view a particular diary. The visitor was the grand-daughter of the author and had never seen the diary in question. She smiled at me as I handed her the file, but then an amazing thing happened. As her hand touched the cover of the diary, the tears began to stream down her face. She was not just reading about an historical event, but touching her grand-mother in this document that had been so personal to her at a memorable and difficult time. It surprised us both, I think.”

Among Mary’s proudest achievements was authoring and contributing to numerous historical publications, including Olwen’s Scrapbook: A Journey to the Peace Country in 1933 and A Grande Education: 100 Schools in the County of Grande Prairie,1910-1960. Her contributions to preserving local history were recognized by numerous awards through the years. Regarding her work in the Archives, Mary once said:

“The South Peace Regional Archives are all about time. The time that has passed, the time that keeps on passing, but also the time that is given to all of us to create a future for that past time.”

Mary’s time with the Archives created a legacy that will endure for generations. Her tireless work to preserve our region’s history profoundly impacted our organization, and so many others. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her and her impact will be felt by countless others.

Mary’s full obituary is available from Oliver’s Funeral Home.

 Photograph courtesy of Fran Rodgers Photography

Now Hiring: Archivist

South Peace Regional Archives is seeking an Archivist for a full-time, permanent position tentatively beginning 1 June 2020. The Archivist oversees the process of acquisition, preservation and accessibility of archival records. The Archivist works with both the Awareness Committee to develop educational programs and events that enhance public awareness, as well as the Indigenous History Committee to foster Reconciliation efforts in the Archives. The Archivist works with and reports to the Executive Director.

35 hours per week; permanent position
Posting closing date: 1 May 2020
Tentative start date: 1 June 2020

Location: Grande Prairie, Alberta
Salary Range: $42,000 – $55,000

The full job posting and description can be viewed at