Grande Prairie Women’s Residence Association fonds. — 1979-1999. — 3.5 cm of textual records.
The organizational meeting of a group interested in answering a growing need in Grande Prairie for adequate and affordable housing for single women was held October 2, 1979. Those attending that meeting were Walter Chledowsky, Barbara Stearns, Lynn Berry, Brenda Brochu, Joanne MacDonald, Pam Chislett and Margaret Bowes who hosted the meeting. Initial ideas that did not materialize included creating a hostel through the Hostel Association, renovating Barrydale House, and inviting the YWCA to come to town. But the group drew up a constitution and by-laws and Grande Prairie Women’s Residence Association was created. The UCW, the RCMP and other local groups were supportive of the idea of a women’s shelter. By May, 1980, the group was able to rent the Croken house on the corner of 100 Ave. and 98 St. and with a grant of $11, 995 hired Terry Conrad as their first supervisor. They received United Way funding and Elmer Borstad, MLA at the time, helped them get several provincial grants. They soon found that the need was for a shelter for women and children. By September, 1981, through a grant from the Clifford E. Lee Foundation they were able to move into a building of their own located at10123-107 Ave. with accomodation for 21. Their new home became “Odyssey House”. Jackie Gaboury, hired in September, 1980, as supervisor established a firm foundation for the service in both houses. Theirs was the first shelter to hire a man, Rob Smith, who worked half time as a assistant supervisor and half time a public relations officer, eventually becoming Public Education Director. The volunteer board was very fortunate to have dedicated men and women serve over the years. For the first six years all the grocery shopping and delivery, volunteer staffing, and for the first ten years the bookkeeping was done by board volunteers. In August, 1981, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters was established to provide liason between shelters and government and to establish funding formulas and basic shelter guidelines. Grande Prairie hosted the ACWS annual conference in May, 1985, with 175 delegates in attendence.
The records were donated to the South Peace Regional Archives by Margaret Bowes in 2009.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of incorporation documents, board meeting minutes (1979-1984), annual reports (1981-1987), a copy of a Certificate of Appreciation, a booklet “History of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters”, four related newsclippings (1981-1999) from the Daily Herald Tribune and a historical summary of the association written by Margaret Bowes.