Close Contact at the Archives

We are pleased to announce the launch of our newest virtual exhibition: Close Contact at the Archives. This multimedia experience highlights the ongoing work at the Archives during the pandemic closure to preserve our local heritage. Close Contact features archival film, textual records, photographs, and oral history from the collections of the Archives. Enjoy from the comfort of your own home! Click the image below to enter the exhibit.
Enter the exhibit button

What’s the Deal with the Watermark?

We’ve received several questions recently about the presence of watermarks on photographs from the Archives collections. We thought this would be a great opportunity to educate our readers about why we watermark these photos and why it is important to credit the Archives as the source of these images!

Why do we add watermarks to our photographs?

The Archives adds watermarks to photographs in our collections so that people know the source of image when it is shared online. We know it can distract from the beauty of the image, which is why you won’t see a watermark on all photographs, but we have many important reasons why we do it!

Who gets the “credit”?

The photographs that you see online (on the Archives’ website, Facebook page, or Alberta on Record) are the culmination of many people’s efforts: the material donors, who not only donated the records but also graciously agreed that they could be made public; the staff and volunteers at the Archives, who put in countless hours of work to arrange, describe, and digitize the materials; the Archives Society of Alberta, who hosts Alberta on Record as a public service website for its institutional members; the local service organizations like the Grande Prairie Branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society, who provide funding so we can buy necessary special equipment like our professional scanner; and last but certainly not least our municipal funding partners (the City of Grande Prairie, County of Grande Prairie, Municipal District of Greenview, and the Municipal District of Spirit River), who support the Archives through operational funding so that we can serve the residents of our region.

Why should I credit the Archives?

Recognizing the South Peace Regional Archives as the source of the image, “crediting” us, acknowledges the extensive time, effort, and financial contributions that went in to making the image easily accessible on the internet. It helps future researchers locate the source of the image and discover more information about it. This is especially important for folks who wish to order high-quality reproductions of the images; our collections include over a hundred thousand photographs, negatives, and slides, so it is extremely difficult to locate the original without proper sourcing. It is also the law, under the Canadian Copyright Act, as the Archives is the legal owner of the photograph and copyright. Most often, failing to provide credit is an honest mistake, which is why we seek first to educate the public about its importance. Whether you are publishing the image in a academic publication or sharing it with your friends on Facebook, it is important to give credit!

How should I credit the Archives?

It’s easy! When sharing a photograph, mention the South Peace Regional Archives as the source of the image and list the item/location code (see below). If sharing online, you can also add a link to where you found the image. If the image has a watermark, please don’t crop it out.

Why do you make the photographs available at all?

The Archives makes photographs available online because it accomplishes a key aspect of our core mission: gathering, preserving, and sharing historical records of the South Peace region. We are very happy to see the images shared and to see people connecting with our local history! Here at the Archives, we add value to people’s lives by increasing their understanding and appreciation of the past; you can help us do this by sharing the images and other content we make available online, and crediting us as your source.

What’s the big deal?

The South Peace Regional Archives is a non-profit organization, and we are only able to operate because we have the support of the community and our funding partners. If people don’t see or understand the value we add to the community, we risk losing financial assistance and therefore being unable to provide our services. Across the country, community Archives have closed due to budget cuts and lack of public support. We need your help to share the value of having a regional Archives so that we can continue to serve the South Peace.

From the Vault Friday: Northern Winter Carnival & Bonspiel

Image: SPRA 69.60.464

Todays “From the Vault Friday” features a program from the 6th Annual Northern Winter Carnival & Bonspiel in Grande Prairie in 1929. Events included hockey games, carnival queen contest, and various races. The biggest prize ($5) was awarded to whomever wore the best comic outfit, and would be the equivalent of $73.09 in 2021 currency. Winter carnivals provided a much needed reprieve from winter blues; with visiting, dancing, and sports aplenty.





















Image: SPRA 1969.59.483, SPRA 1969.59.614

Browse our selection of winter carnival photos on Alberta On Record.

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.

From The Vault Friday: “Looking Ahead” Booklet

Images: Excerpts from “Looking Ahead in the Peace River Country to the Building of a City” pamphlet, written by Ancel Bezanson in 1914. From SPRA 155.01 (pages 1 and 3).

Todays “From the Vault Friday” features a booklet from the Bezanson Family fonds (Fonds 155). The booklet, titled “Looking Ahead in the Peace River Country to the Building of a City” was published by Ancel Bezanson in 1914. The purpose of the publication was to garner interest in the region and encourage homesteaders to move to the “Last West.” It includes a detailed map of the Bezanson town site, several photos of the area, and impressive claims about the future of the region. According to the pamphlet, the Peace River country “is today attracting the attention of Capitalists and homeseekers in all parts of the world.”

Ancel Maynard Bezanson began his love affair with the Peace Country in 1906. That year he traveled throughout the Peace with a camera and a notebook, and shortly thereafter published “The Peace River Trails” to promote the Peace River Country as a place to settle. He was convinced of the agricultural potential of the area, and began promoting the Bezanson townsite with great enthusiasm. However, when the railroad finally came in 1916, it came to Grande Prairie—not Bezanson. The “Townsite” was subsequently abandoned and eventually designated a Registered Historic Resource in 1986.

To view the entire booklet, visit the digitized version available on Alberta on Record.

To learn more about Ancel Bezanson, visit Fonds 155: Bezanson Family fonds.

To learn more about the history of the Bezanson area, visit Telling Our Stories March 2013 (pg 10).


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.

Introducing: A Tribute to Mary Nutting

The South Peace Regional Archives is pleased to announce the launch of a new video series honouring the late Mary Nutting. The series, produced by Grande Prairie Seniors Reading Theatre with support from M3M Marketing, showcases reading performances of A Grande Education: One Hundred Schools in the County of Grande Prairie, 1910-1960.

A Grande Education tells the stories of one hundred one-room schools in the County and features photographs, correspondence, and other documents. This joint project serves to honour Mary’s legacy and share our local community history: “Our hope is to share these videos with the community and most of all with seniors who have been missing family throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We know there are many out there who would appreciate learning and reminiscing about the history of the region” (Seniors Reading Theatre). The Archives would like to thank both Seniors Reading Theatre and M3M marketing for their hard work bringing this project to life.

Catch up on the series below, including the first school featured: Blooming Valley School! New videos will be posted every week on M3M’s YouTube page and shared on the South Peace Regional Archives’ Facebook page.

To purchase a copy of A Grande Education, visit the Archives’ online shop.

Note: Performances have been recorded in-person, over zoom or via voice recording. In-person recordings followed Alberta Government regulations at the time of filming.

Shop the Archives

You asked, and we delivered! Due to popular demand, the South Peace Regional Archives has launched a new online store, featuring all of our books and card sets. To celebrate this exciting event, we have printed three brand new sets of notecards: a 2020 Holiday Collection, a General Collection AND a collection featuring artwork from Olwen’s Scrapbook: A Journey to the Peace Country in 1933. These items would make for a great stocking stuffer or last minute Christmas gift for the heritage enthusiast in your life.

Visit the shop here and peruse the beautiful notecards and books we have available. Shipping is available for a fee; and curbside pick-up is FREE! Prefer to pay via cash or cheque? Contact the Archives directly and we would be happy to arrange a curbside exchange. Unfortunately, we are not able to process membership requests online at this time.

Happy shopping!

Fred Fonds: Elf on the Shelf

Once again, the Archives’ Elf on the Shelf, Fred Fonds, will return from the North Pole on December 1st for another holiday season. Fred has been finishing his quarantine in a top secret location so he can safely explore the Archives.

Follow all of Fred’s adventures on the South Peace Regional Archives’ Facebook page. Be sure to like our page and posts so you never miss an update!

Enjoy this look back on some highlights from Fred’s visit last year.

Remembrance at the Archives

The South Peace Regional Archives will be closed on Wednesday, November 11th for Remembrance Day. Do you want to commemorate Remembrance Day at home? Explore these related resources from the Archives.

Poppy Bunting Display

This year’s marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. To commemorate this important event, the South Peace Regional Archives and Grande Prairie Museum have partnered with Wapiti Meadows District – Girl Guides of Canada to create a poppy bunting display.

Over the last two weeks, local Girl Guides have been learning about WWII female veterans and war brides from the South Peace, as well as the symbolism of the poppy. Members from fourteen local units were then given the opportunity to create a poppy flag that was used to decorate the Remembrance Day display at the Grande Prairie Museum.

The joint Archives-Museum Remembrance Day display is an annual event and will be up in the Military section of the main exhibit gallery for the month of November. The Grande Prairie Museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00am to 6:00pm and 12:00pm to 6:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.  On Remembrance Day, the Museum will be open 12:00pm to 5:00pm.  For more information on Museum hours and exhibits, please call 780-830-7090.

Soldiers Memorial 

The South Peace Regional Archives is creating an online memorial to the soldiers from the South Peace area who were involved in defending our country. We have over 1,100 WWI soldiers and over 2,300 WWII soldiers listed on this site so far, and the list is growing. As we gather information about each soldier, it will be added to the memorial. This important work is completed by volunteer researchers and members of the community. Love the idea of our project? You can help! We will welcome the general public to pick a soldier from our list to research. Contact us for more information.

War Brides Collection

Between 1942 and 1948, nearly 45,000 War Brides accompanied by 21,000 children came to Canada from Britain and Europe to join their husbands. Entire departments of government were devoted to bringing the war brides home.

In 2007, the South Peace Regional Archives collected autobiographical stories from 18 World War II brides who came to the Peace Country after meeting their Canadian husbands in Britain and Europe during the War. The War Brides Collection includes audio taped interviews and photographs documenting these women’s lives and journeys. Brief biographies and a selection of photographs are available to view online.

The Argonauts’ 1910-1915 Cashbook

Above: Argonauts Limited office on the new townsite of Grande Prairie. Argonauts Limited was organized in Edmonton to develop the town of Grande Prairie at Bear Creek, alongside where the Canadian Northern Railway had survey stakes. 1909 (SPRA 2001.01.201)

Although we have not yet been able to welcome our volunteers back to the archives, many of our volunteers are continuing to work on projects at home. Just this week, volunteer Randy Repka finished transcribing the Argonauts’ 1910-1915 cashbook; the digitized cashbook and Randy’s transcription are now both available on the Argonauts Ltd. finding aid.

The Argonauts Limited company was formed in 1909 by partners William A. Rae, Robert McQuarrie, Charles Spencer, C. Byar, Edwin Simpson, John “Jack” Sutherland, and W.H. Carter. Late in 1909, Jack Sutherland was sent north to the South Peace to determine whether the southern half of 26-71-6-W6th, along the Canadian Northern Railway survey, was suitable for a townsite. Upon his favorable report, the company purchased 80 acres of the land, and in 1910 had it subdivided into town lots by Dominion Land Surveyor Walter McFarlane. These were promoted and sold by the Grande Prairie Townsite Company, of which W.A. Rae was also secretary.

When the Argonauts Limited secured its charter in 1910, the partners decided that they should also take in a sawmill. The procession of twelve teams carrying a steamer and all the equipment needed for the mill started from Edmonton on February 12, 1910 and a month later had made it as far as the Simonette River. Here they were stranded by early break-up of the rivers until they could raft it up the rivers. The mill was finally set up in the virgin timbers of the Wapiti River valley to provide lumber for the first buildings in Grande Prairie City.

Grande Prairie City grew rapidly, attracting other developers on parcels of land surrounding the original townsite. The village was incorporated in 1914, and by 1919 had the requisite 1000 residents for a town. A few years later, in 1922, The Argonauts disbanded. A great number of their lots were still unsold, and these were distributed to the shareholders on the basis of three dollars worth of property for each dollar of capital shares held.

The early spring in 1910 resulted in rivers breaking up before the expected date. Incoming settlers, such as the Forbes and Argonaut party seen here, were forced to make rafts for transporting effects down river to the Grande Prairie townsite. 1910 (SPRA 2001.01.192)

A page from the Argonauts’ cashbook

2020 AGM: Voting results

Thank you to all members of the South Peace Regional Archives who participated in the Archives’ 2020 Annual General Meeting and cast their votes, either by zoom or by ballot. In total, 32 members voted; 20 members via zoom and 12 members via ballot. The following are the results of all votes carried out during the AGM.


QUORUM: 23 members required (20% of 114 members). Quorum achieved.

MOTION: To adopt the agenda, as presented.
Moved by Gail Prette; Seconded by Grace Wideman. Carried.

MOTION: To accept the minutes of the 2019 Annual General Meeting, as presented.
Moved by Gail Prette; Seconded by Eleanor Dalen Whitling. Carried.

MOTION: To accept the President’s report, as presented.
Moved by Jan Shields; Seconded by Shawn Acton. Carried.

MOTION: To accept the Executive Director’s report, as presented.
Moved by Jan Shields; Seconded by Gail Prette. Carried.

MOTION: To accept the Treasurer’s report, as presented.
Moved by Gail Prette; Seconded by Jan Shields. Carried.

MOTION: To accept the 2019 Financial Statements of the South Peace Regional Archives, as presented.
Moved by Gail Prette; Seconded by Shawn Acton. Carried.

MOTION: To appoint Irene Nicolson and Irene Gitzel as volunteer auditors of the South Peace Regional Archives 2020 financial records and to appoint Cathy Scott as an alternate auditor, in the event that either of the two auditors are unavailable.
Moved by Jan Shields; Seconded by Maxine Maxwell. Carried.

MOTION: To accept the South Peace Regional Archives 2020 budget, as presented.
Moved by Gail Prette; Seconded by Cathy Scott. Carried.

MOTION: To complete a final review of the Draft Bylaw document to correct any spelling or grammar errors before the document is submitted to Alberta Registries.
Moved by Jan Shields; Seconded by Gail Schau. Carried.

SPECIAL RESOLUTION: Be it resolved as a special resolution of the South Peace Regional Archives Society, that the Bylaws of the South Peace Regional Archives Society be repealed; and that the Draft Bylaw document as presented at the 2020 Annual General Meeting of the South Peace Regional Archives, attached hereto, serve as the Bylaws of the Society in lieu of and to replace the current Bylaws.
Moved by Jan Shields; Seconded by Duff Crerar. Carried.

MOTION: To accept the nominations report, as presented.
Moved by Jan Shields; Seconded by Linda Murphy. Carried.

VOTE: Call for vote for GAIL PRETTE as Director.
Vote carried.

VOTE: Call for vote for ELEANOR DALEN WHITLING as Director.
Vote carried.

VOTE: Call for vote for DARYL WHITE as Director.
Vote carried.

VOTE: Call for votes for PAULINE NORTON as Director.
Vote carried.

VOTE: Call for votes for MEAGHAN PEURAMAKI-BROWN as Director.
Vote carried.

VOTE: Call for votes for SHAWN MORTON as Director.
Vote carried.

Draft minutes were completed by Duff Crerar, Secretary, with assistance from Alyssa Currie, Executive Director. Motions and votes were verified and tallied by the Secretary (Duff Crerar) and President (Jan Shields); individual voting results will remain anonymous.