Coming Up: The Alaska Highway Road Show

If you like storytelling, don’t miss the Alaska Highway Roadshow on July 6th in the Grande Prairie Museum Community Room at 7:00 PM. Only 100 tickets are available and they are selling fast at $10.00.  Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance from the Grande Prairie Museum (Cash Only)

Performers Bill Dolan, Alison Tubman, and Kathy Jessup have a long family history in the north, and they have created an entertaining look back at the history of the Alaska Highway through research, family stories, music, artifacts, and photographs.

Raised as “highway kids,” they lend an authentic voice to this ninety-minute tribute concert. Audiences will gain an appreciation of why the Alaska Highway deserves to be Canada’s newest National Historic Site and why truckers and all those who’ve called it home over the years proudly share a special bond. The Trail of ’42 is a remarkable story, and as the Highway reaches its 75th birthday, this is the time to tell it!

Spring Cleaning at the Archives

Recently, as part of our Integrated Pest Management program (IPM), the SPRA held its first annual spring cleaning bee. You may be thinking, “Integrated Pest Management! Does the archives have bugs?” No and yes. Technically, most bugs are not true bugs, they are insects. (I know a gardener who takes the terminology very seriously and I do too as a gesture of solidarity). So, no bugs in the archives. But the occasional spider and millipede does get in there. Both eat other insects. Luckily, the spiders like whatever it is they put in the pest traps and the millipedes seem to starve to death so the records remain safe.

IPM is less about dealing with a pest problem and more about preventing a pest problem.

Material coming in is inspected. Any items that look suspicious are quarantined. Pest traps attract wayward critters and give us an indication of what is wandering in. But the most important preventative activity for our IPM is housekeeping.

We regularly clean our working space but the storage shelves are a bit trickier. In both the unprocessed area and the processed storage vault, the shelves are full of boxes. Not something that gets dusted every day. Or week. Or month. It is a big job. Not a job for one or even four staff, only one of whom is here full time. The job needed doing and we needed help so we called in our volunteers. It was a great fun day of dusting, reorganizing, and out with the old.  (Empty boxes only. This is an Archive after all) We followed up all that hard work with a potluck lunch.

A few shelves in the vault still require dusting and a pest spot check in the bottom rows of boxes. It won’t be as exciting now that Meg isn’t here to scare me with, “Oh my gosh! This one is huge!” Thanks, Meg. I  had skipped my cardio that day and needed to get my heart rate up.

While it wasn’t all done, we accomplished a lot. More than just cleaning. It was great to get all the volunteers and staff together. We’re not all in at the same time and catching up helps us bond as a team. Volunteers were able to see more of the archive than they usually do. They are generally very focused on their projects and don’t get to see the other work areas. And last but not least we were able to assure ourselves, by moving around boxes and checking files, that the SPRA really is in good shape. If we ever do encounter a pest problem, we’ll be better able to pinpoint the possible causes and determine solutions because we have limited the possible start time to some time after June 2017.

That is a lot of value for a cleaning bee at the Archive. Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers and staff who made it happen.

by Archivist Josephine Sallis

Upcoming Cemetery Tours

South Peace Regional Archives is hosting two cemetery tours this summer and we’re inviting you to join in!

On Tuesday, July 4 and Friday, August 25 at 7:00 PM we will be hosting our annual cemetery walking tours.  Join us at the Grande Prairie Cemetery (84 Avenue and 112 Street) to discover the rich and interesting history of Grande Prairie and area through the lives and stories of its people.  Our tour will highlight the lives of those who served in the two world wars.  Please note that this will be the same tour that was given last summer.

Call the Archives at 780-830-5105 to register (limit of 25 participants per tour)

It’s Coming!

Mark your calendars and start prepping your costume! The 2016 Friends of the Archives fall fundraiser is booked for Saturday, October 15, 2016 at the Pomeroy Hotel. We are gearing up for a fun-filled, barn-dance themed event and we want to see you there! Watch our webpage for more details: www.southpeacearchives.org/friends-spra

The Horse Drive of Harry Adair in Review

Now that our website is back online and fully repaired, check out the photographs of the July 12th fundraiser!

We had a great time at the Horse Drive of Harry Adair!  The weather was perfect, the content was riveting, and the Scenic Heights Players did a great job with the play.  Thanks again to all our volunteers, our donors, and the Scenic Heights community. We had a profit of just over $7,000 on the event and a nice donation of $10,000 for our building fund from one of the attendees, so that made it a very profitable event!

Roping instruction

Roping instruction

Crowds in the stands, waiting for the play to begin

Crowds in the stands, waiting for the play to begin

Leslie Gordon interviews Gary Dixon

Leslie Gordon interviews Gary Dixon

Charlie Penson, MC and President of the Friends Society

Charlie Penson, MC and President of the Friends Society

Musicians

Musicians

The chuckwagon

The chuckwagon

The players

The players

The bear that scared the horses

The bear that scared the horses

Last Call for Tickets!

Hello all;

This is a last call for tickets for the Harry Adair Horse Drive Open Air Play and Barbecue!  We have about forty left from our top number of two hundred tickets.

And here’s another story about Harry Adair.

This is the best photo we have of Harry Adair.  It is called “Paying an Election Bet” (SPRA 032.08.08.0585) and is dated July 2, 1917.  Harry was involved in politics at many levels.  He was on the first Council for the Rural Municipality of Bear Lake when it was formed in December 1912, and he ran in the Provincial Election in 1917 but lost to banker William Innes.  You can read about it in the news clipping below.

What surprised me, though, was his support of feminist politician and social activist Nellie McClung.  The clipping here, dated October 5, 1920, gives a taste of community life at the Adair ranch.

October 5, 1920

October 5, 1920

July 10, 1917

July 10, 1917

Coming Soon – the Horse Drive of Harry Adair

Houses on the Adair Ranch. From 1929-1942 the Bartsch Family loved in one of these houses and the Cornelius Toews Family in the other, ca. 1930

Houses on the Adair Ranch after they were sold in the late 1920s. From 1929-1942 the Bartsch Family lived in one of these houses and the Cornelius Toews Family in the other, ca. 1930

What do you know about Harry Adair? How he heard about the Peace Country, we don’t know, but Harry Adair set out from Montana in 1906 with 700 head of horses, assisted only by three women relatives and a few wranglers. He finally arrived here in 1909 and established a 2,200 acre ranch northwest of the fledgling community of Saskatoon Lake. Grande Prairie City wasn’t even a dream then. By 1913, he was seeding 900 acres of crop; and by 1917, 1300 acres, the largest ranch in the Peace Country. His ranch buildings, seen in the photos above, were the center of community life in that area. For the story about that exciting horse drive from Montana to the Grande Prairie, you’ll have to come to the Open Air Play on July 12th!

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 16, 1916

Grande Prairie Herald ~ September 16, 1916

Grande Prairie Herald ~ May 20, 1913

Grande Prairie Herald ~ May 20, 1913

SPRA Annual General Meeting 2015

 In spite of the wintry weather on Saturday, we had a good turnout for our annual general meeting.

Maureen Curry, director of the Grande Prairie Public Library, receiving the Beth Sheehan Archives Award for the library's valuable contributions to and partnership with the South Peace Regional Archives.

Maureen Curry, director of the Grande Prairie Public Library, received the Beth Sheehan Archives Award for the library’s valuable contributions to and partnership with the South Peace Regional Archives.

Kathryn Auger received an award for contributing more than 1000 hours to the archives as a volunteer.

Kathryn Auger received an award for contributing more than 1000 hours to the archives as a volunteer.

David Leonard shared with us his passion for the Peace Country Land Settlement Database project.

David Leonard shared with us his passion for the Peace Country Land Settlement Database project.

Thank you to everyone who came out to join us and we’ll look forward to seeing you next year!

Historic Cemeteries Walking Tour

Sunday June 9th, 2013

Time: 1:30pm to 4:00pm

Join SPRA for a guided walk through five cemeteries in the Wembley-LaGlace corridor. Discover the rich and interesting history of the area through the lives and stories of its people.

Call 780-830-5105 to register and get directions (limit of 20 participants). Please bring your own vehicle and dress for walking and the weather.

Photo: participants listening intently to SPRA Archivist Leslie Pearson, 2012