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.

A New Fonds is Available

In 2018, our Archives Assistant (student), Sonya, started processing the Vader-Grimm Family fonds. Unfortunately, she didn’t have time to complete the processing before her time at the Archives ended. Since the pandemic began, we’ve had more time to dedicate to processing and turned our attention back to this fonds in order to get it finished and available for all to see and reference. We are so pleased to announce that we have now completed processing the Vader-Grimm Family fonds!

The Vader-Grimm Family fonds consists of 27.5 cm of textual material, 835 photographs, 692 photographic negatives, and 2 oral histories. The Vader-Grimm Family fonds tells the story and history of two separate families, the Vaders (from Spirit River) and the Grimms (from Rycroft), which came together with the marriage of Ora and Edith in 1943. The textual material consists of family history and genealogy books, estate and funerary paperwork, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and account books from running the family farm among other records. The photographs depict farm life and work, family life, schoolchildren, WWII training, and landscapes in and around the Peace Country.

This fonds will be available for in-person consultation once we open the Archives back up to the public. In the meantime, the finding aid is available to look through on our website: Fonds 676 Vander-Grimm Family fonds, and a selection of digitized photographs are viewable on Alberta on Record.

Photo: Three Adolescents with Baseball Gloves (SPRA 676.

Birthday Surprise!

Earlier this year, the Archives’ volunteer and Vice President Gail Prette, celebrated a special birthday milestone! As a result of the ongoing pandemic, she was forced to cancel her birthday plans and find a new way to mark the occasion. Gail turned to social media, where she asked her friends and family to make a donation to the Archives in lieu of attending a party. Over the next several months, donations were made on Facebook (through Giving Fund Canada) in Gail’s name. The Archives recently received a cheque for $475 for Gail’s birthday fundraiser. Additional cash donations made in Gail’s name brought the total to a whopping $585! Gifts such as these help the Archives continue our mission of gathering, preserving, and sharing the historical records of the South Peace. We are incredibly thankful for these generous donations, and to Gail Prette for her continued support of our organization.

Happy Birthday, Gail!

2020 Annual General Meeting

The South Peace Regional Archives Society is pleased to invite our members and the public to our 2020 Annual General Meeting.

The AGM will be conducted virtually on Zoom, 26 September 2020 at 10:00am. The agenda for the meeting will include:

Archives Updates

Election of Board Members 

A Special Resolution to Repeal the Existing Bylaws and Accept Rewritten Bylaws


Volunteer Recognition

Presentation of the Beth Sheehan Award

Meeting details and documents, including Zoom join details, will be made available at in advance of the meeting.

A New Accrual

Photograph: NAR Tressle over Bear Creek GP (SPRA 0256.02.24)

We are excited to announce the recent completion of an accrual to the Schenk family fonds (fonds 256). Although we have been closed to the public due to the ongoing pandemic, we have remained hard at work making records accessible for public use. Processing the accrual to the Schenk family fonds has been one of our many recent projects that we are thrilled to share the results with you!

This accrual has added 12 new photos, 50 cm of textual material, 9 maps, and 1 piece of artwork to the Schenk family collection.  The photographs include the Schenk family, soldiers from WWII, scenes of the NAR railway, and images of early Grande Prairie including one staff favorite: the NAR wooden train bridge over Bear Creek. All 9 maps relate to the forestry industry of Alberta and the South Peace Region, including a detailed set of four maps made for the Alberta Forest Service. Each map covers all of Alberta and has a different overlay pertaining to Forest Service Air Operations including: a fuel cache overlay, a fire bombing overlay, an air patrol overlay, and a base map with no overlay. The most substantial portion of this accrual was the 50cm of new textual material. These records contain Forestry employment records from Dave and Melba Schenk, daily journals, newspaper clippings, handbooks, pamphlets, documentation books and many other unique documents. Some interesting highlights in the textual materials include an Alberta Liquor Board price list from 1955, WWII ration books that belonged to the Schenk family, and a newspaper clipping announcing the arrival of King George VI and the Queen Mother to Canada on a royal tour.

The newly updated finding aid, containing an in-depth description of the material, is now available on our South Peace Regional Archives website: Fonds 256 Schenk family fonds. A selection of the photographs are also available on Alberta on Record for your viewing pleasure. We encourage you to browse these new resources and, once the Archives reopens to the public, schedule a visit to see these documents in person.