From the Vault Friday: 32nd County Fair

Image: SPRA 998.22.4.74

Todays “From the Vault Friday” features a program from the 32nd Annual County Fair, from the Grande Prairie Loggers Sports Association fonds (Fonds 042).

In 1973, the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce was searching for a way to promote the city as the “Timber Capital” of Alberta. They approached locally based forest industries and allied companies to put together some form of timber show to run in conjunction with Muskoseepi Days. The first timber show was held in 1973.

In 1974, the second logger’s sports was held in Bear Creek Park with one outside contestant, but it was obvious that what was needed was a strong campaign to attract both competitors and local spectators. That winter, the Logging Sports Committee began negotiations with the County of Grande Prairie Agricultural Society to hold the show in conjunction with the County Fair. As well, a number of professional competitors were brought in from the west coast to put on demonstrations of their various skills. As a result of the 1975 show, the committee was accepted into the Canadian Loggers’ Sports Association (CANLOG) as part of a Canada-wide competition circuit.

In 1976, the Grande Prairie Loggers Sports Association began to construct a logger’s sports park, complete with a log house facility, birling pond and climbing poles. That year competitors came from as far away as Australia.

From 1976 to the early 1990s, the event continued to be a part of the annual fair at Evergreen Park. The small association whose job it was to organize the show, however, was having difficulty attracting new members. The organization folded in 1994, the year the last Loggers’ Sports Show was held in Grande Prairie.

Image: SPRA 1998.22.4.26

Read more about the Grande Prairie Loggers Sports Association fonds (Fonds 042) here.

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: Bezanson Stampede


Today’s “From the Vault Friday” comes from the Bezanson Stampede Committee Fonds (Fonds 369). It is estimated that the Bezanson Stampede had its first little rodeo in 1946, with Bob Fenton as manager.

The Stampede touted many “Thrills and Spills”: a nail driving contest, a dance, wild cow milking, races and roping.

The decision to have no more stampedes was made in 1963; the horses were sold and the ground rented to Agar and Morrison. The profits from the stampedes, with the exception of a few of the later years, were turned over to the Bezanson Hall Committee. In 1967, the Bezanson Stampede’s assets and $1400 cash were donated to the Bezanson Memorial Hall Committee for the purposes of installing a gas furnace and two propane cook stoves in the hall.


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.


Seen & Heard

The January 26, 1934 issue of the Grande Prairie Herald included several pages of notes from the rural communities of the South Peace region.  Whoever the writer, or writers, of these “Seen & Heard” columns, they were well informed of the day to day happenings of their communities… and had a subtle wit besides.

West Vale – what was Mr. Sayle’s secret?

Fox Creek – “a cool-headed teacher”

Albright – free lunch?  ‘Nuff said!

Mountain Trail – a new type of winter garden

Christmas Past

Flipping through past issues of Grande Prairie newspapers, you can see the importance of community celebrations.  There are announcements for and descriptions of any number of dances, school entertainments, pageants, concerts… even programmes for special radio concerts were published in the weekly papers.  This 1926 entertainment included songs, recitations, and skits, and of course no Christmas entertainment would be complete without the appearance of Santa Claus himself.

Photograph: Christmas concert at Beaverlodge School, 1925 (SPRA 362.02.12.22)

Grande Prairie Herald ~ 27 December 1926


Shopping at Home

Amazon, Etsy, and a host of other online marketplaces have given a different meaning to the concept of “shopping at home.”  On weekends such as this, when streets and parking lots are at least ankle-deep in snow, online shopping from the comfort of one’s couch becomes even more appealing.

Still, there is something delightful about browsing through the local shops in search of the perfect gift – flipping through books, fingering a selection of scarves and shawls, choosing a Lego set, art supplies, or new pajamas.  And according to this excerpt from the 1930 Grande Prairie Herald, a little planning ahead can make it a pleasant excursion.

Grande Prairie Herald ~ November 28, 1930

Autumn Produce

We all take for granted the ready availability of quality produce throughout the year, though we still look forward to the arrival of fresh Okanagan peaches, cherries, apples, and pears in the late summer and autumn months.  In 1917, a refrigerator was secured to ensure “the quality of the fruit and the cheapest price yet seen in the North” for the first time.  The Crummy Brothers, who would be receiving this shipment, expected the fresh fruits to be in great demand and advised that orders were placed ahead of time for the desired type and quantity of fruit.  No doubt their expectations were proven correct – it was preserving season, after all!

Photograph: Andress family showing the results of a day of berry picking, 1919

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 4, 1917

A Magnificently Modern Store

The opening of Bird’s new store in 1941 seemed to be a pretty big occasion.  There had been a special edition of the Herald Tribune the week before, and the Mayor officially opened the store, with several speakers, including the local MLA.  The opening was broadcast on radio CFGP.  After reading some of the articles in the previous newspaper, I am wondering if this was the first “self-serve” grocery store in town.  The articles mentioned the special shelving, the fluorescent lighting, and describe it as having a “most citified layout.”

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune ~ January 23, 1941

Trading Squirrel Skins for News

This very well written letter was sent to the newspaper, along with a bundle of squirrel skins for the Editor to sell to pay for a subscription.  That’s pretty unusual, but this woman seems to live in a very remote area and may be short of ready cash.  She may not have a lot of people to talk with either, and her very chatty letter comments on recent news stories and the new Social Credit government in Alberta.  The “no relation to Richard” at the end is significant because of her last name.  That name was in the news, as Richard Hauptman, convicted in the Lindbergh kidnapping and murder, was slated to be executed in April.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ January 17, 1936

Grande Prairie Herald ~ January 17, 1936

A Headline We’re Not Likely to See Again

The newspaper called it a “unique condition in civic finances” and claimed that “probably” no other municipality in Western Canada was in such a position.  However, the population was just over 1000, and municipal services of any kind were pretty limited.

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger

Grande Prairie Herald ~ January 13, 1920

A Trapped Trapper

When a large bear took over his cabin, Jim Fells of Bezanson retreated to the attic, where he was trapped until the next day. His rescuers didn’t believe there was a big bear in the cabin which wouldn’t leave, so Jim shot at the bear with his .22. When the bear attempted to leave the cabin through a window, the visitors believed him!

Researched & written by Kathryn Auger
The Herald Tribune – Jan 31, 1946

Photo description – Cabin in Winter, [1915]
A cabin in winter showing icicles along the roof edge.
Location: 0344.02.07