Every year new schools seem to be popping up in Grande Prairie to accommodate the needs of a growing city. In 1916, the plans for a new school for Grande Prairie were accepted by the Alberta Department of Education. At the time of its construction in 1917, the Montrose School was the largest brick building north of Edmonton and in every way a “credit to the north.”
In 1914 Leonard Stephens came to Canada from England. He made his way to the Peace Region and filed on 16-72-10-6 as well as 27-72-10-6 near Beaverlodge. Another Homesteader Samuel Timmins filed on 22-72-10-6.
Both men were trappers and set out together in 1922 to check their lines. Leonard’s family realized that he and Sammy were late on returning and contacted the R.C.M.P.
The R.C.M.P. investigation turned up the bones of the men and a grisly discovery – the men had been killed by bullets to the back of the head.
In 1926 a notice was placed in the newspaper for claimants on the estate of Leonard Alfred Francis Stephens. It states his date of death as on or about February 15, 1923.
Grande Prairie Herald Sept. 13, 1926
Leonard was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Goodfare.
Less is known about Samuel Timmins; I am not even sure where he was buried.
This story was brought to the attention of the archives by a researcher. If you know anything more, let us know and we will share it with the interested party.
Today the person interested in this case has informed us that this was not murder after all but a case of men who were inexperienced in dealing with the harsh weather in the area. More information can be found in an article in the Shoulder Strap (a Police publication) July 1940 or by calling or visiting SPRA.
Photo: Beaverlodge, 1930
Source: Information on the murder victims was found in Beaverlodge to the Rockies p. 35-36
We forget sometimes that those historic events that loom large in our national psyche and have carried such profound resonance over the years, were at the time, only one of the many events taking place in the lives of everyday people.
This article in the 17th April 1917 edition of the Grande Prairie Herald demonstrates the relative importance attached to the assault on Vimy Ridge shortly after the event. Midway down on the right side of the page, the Canadian assault was a smaller news story than the bid for tenders on a new school and the Red Cross Ball held on Friday the 13th. Still, it was on the front page and shared that space with other news about the war, including the British capture of 13,000 “Hun” prisoners and “World United Against Huns.”
Grande Prairie Herald ~ April 17, 1917
Three days later, April 20 edition of the Lake Saskatoon Journal does not mention Vimy specifically but it does write about the results of the latest Allied offensive on the western and southern fronts by the British and French. This news shares the front page with articles about wheat trade, munition strikers in Germany, new homestead residences for C. Cady and G. Evans, and the marriage of the “Popular Young Couple,” Mamie Moore and Ulia Douglass. Other war news that day included the story of British subjects in the US being liable for call up, food sources for the Army and Navy, and the return of Private Ralph Witherly to Grande Prairie.
April 20, 1917 ~ This edition of the Lake Saskatoon Journal will be part of our display commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday
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.
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.
Another bright idea for farmers from the city folks in Edmonton! Farmers using wider sleighs in the winter would be a cost effective way to keep roads open, according to the Edmonton Good Roads Association, reducing the heavy burden of taxes to pay for drags and snowplows. The Association planned to petition the government to enact regulations to ensure the use of wide bench sleighs as a means of keeping winter roads open.
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,  A cabin in winter showing icicles along the roof edge. Location: 0344.02.07
Many adjectives are used in this article to describe the Christmas Day radio programming being planned by the Canadian Radio Commission – unheard of, daring, thrilling. It was to begin with the Christmas message from King George V. There would also be choirs, interviews, and stories from across Canada, requiring the services of over 1000 people and technicians and using 32 000 miles of wire. I wonder if it lived up to this report. As a sign of our times, I looked and you could actually listen to King George’s speech on YouTube.
Blood transfusions seem to still have been a bit unconventional in the area, even though blood typing, a key in the process, was discovered in 1910. It is gratifying that so many citizens volunteered for the testing, and the surgery to help the man who was ill was a success. It is certainly one of the medical procedures we may take for granted, but volunteers still have to come forward to donate blood.