Update Tuesday 17 March 4:00 PM: The Board of Directors has voted to postpone the Archives’ Annual General Meeting, originally scheduled for March 28th, until further notice. Details regarding the rescheduling of the AGM will be communicated as soon as they are available.
Effective immediately, the South Peace Regional Archives is closed to the public for an indefinite period. We will not be accepting any visitors for donations or research requests, and all volunteer work is paused. For those who wish to carry out research, our web page is an excellent resource for information on local history. We respectfully request those with remote research requests to allow us this week to assess how we will address the situation as events at home and around the world unfold. Updates on our services will be made available on this blog or Facebook. Thank you for your patience.
The South Peace Regional Archives is pleased to welcome Alyssa Currie, who has taken over the role of Executive Director this week. Currie succeeds Mary Nutting who retired from her post.
Currie was born and raised in Dawson Creek before attending the University of Northern British Columbia where she completed her Bachelors of Arts in English and History, then going to the University of Victoria, where she is currently completing her Masters of Arts. Her previous experience includes working as an Assistant Curator at the Pouce Coupe Museum, Student Archivist at Library and Archives Canada, and as a Recruitment Officer at the University of Victoria.
Currie will draw upon her previous work and academic experiences, as well as her personal connection to the area. “I look forward to bringing the history of the South Peace region into the present and the future,” she remarks, stressing that “this work would not be possible without the generous support of the Archive’s municipal partners, donors, and community members.”
The South Peace Regional Archives continues its commitment to gathering, preserving, and sharing the historical records of the region. The archives enrich people’s lives by increasing their understanding and appreciation of the past.
For more information, please contact:
Alyssa Currie, Executive Director
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.
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.
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.
Our website has some new additions which we have listed below. In order for a collection to be added to our site they have to be processed, rehoused and numbered. If there are photographs in the collection they have to be described and numbered and eventually a selection of them will be uploaded to Alberta on Record.
Attention, descendants of the families who purchased the Adair Ranching Company north of Wembley in 1930!
Gerhard Jacob Weins (Wiens?)
Jacob D. Nickel
John Goerzen (Goertzen?)
This summer, the Friends of the Archives are planning to reenact the story of Harry Adair at the Scenic Heights picnic grounds. Do you have any photographs of Harry Adair in your family albums that you are willing to share?
We are looking to name the Hythe classes in the photographs below –
This photo is thought to date from the 1940’s
Tentative identifications are –
Hythe School photograph, taken inside the school gym, ca. 1950. Students are identified as (back row, l to r) Grant Finnon, ? , ? , ? , Jim Hodgson, Rene Sharkey, ? , Judy Armstrong, Dan Armstrong; (middle row, l to r) Laverne ?, Joyce ?, Donald Stubbs, Don Pearson, Veron Klimp, Bill Lanctot, ? Lizotte, Margaret Tangen, Art Patterson, Paul Gass; and (front row, l to r) ? , Tom Gass, Marion McPherson, Billy Fisher, Leroy Erickson, Teacher Vernon McNamee, Margarite Everton, David Stickney, Anita Hayjak, Leona Boey.
This second photo is from the 1950’s and we can use your help in naming the students.
A big thank you to Grace Wideman for sharing these photos of Hythe with the Archives!
This ad in the Sept. 16, 1948 newspaper brought back memories of listening to The Happy Gang on the radio. We had a big wooden radio that sat on a table – I still have the table, and still refer to it as “the radio table” much to the confusion of my family who had no idea which table I meant. The Happy Gang was on CBC radio from 1937 to 1959. It always began with the sound of knocking on a door, followed by the question “Who’s there?” and the reply “It’s the Happy Gang” and Bert Pearl saying “Well come on in”. The format included skits, comedy routines and a variety of musical items. A couple of interesting things that turned up when I was looking this up was that during World War II, “They’ll Always Be An England” was sung daily on the program. The other was that they used to play a song called “The Barrel Polka”, the word beer not being allowed on radio in those days. There is a feature about the program on Rewind with Michael Enright, easily found – just Google the Happy Gang or click the picture of the Happy Gang and it will take you to the website.
As well we have a new page on our website inviting people to Create a Legacy for a loved one. Gifts can be used to celebrate special milestone events, remember a special person, or honour someone for their contributions. Gifts can be directed to a specific need such as film digitization, events, and newsletter sponsorship, or to general funds. Thank you for considering the Archives.
Matthew Wozniak as Santa for the Eaglesham Co-op in the 1950’s.
This is a newspaper article that has the writer remembering back to Christmas in Grande Prairie in 1910. It appears that then, like now, the holidays were all about social gatherings and of course Santa’s arrival. The link to the article is here.