Friday, October 28, 2016

Women in the Archives

by Carson Murphy, Archivist

I couldn’t let Women’s History Month pass without mentioning some of the women involved in making the archives what they are. It is no secret that much of history is dominated by the male narrative, but what we sometimes forget as a society is that women did record many of these stories, especially in the past couple of centuries. Women recorded the births, marriages, deaths and other family milestones in the family Bible. How many of us had a mother or grandmother who clipped the obits and birth announcements from the paper? Who (one hopes) labeled the photographs of their children as they grew? The task to collect and preserve this information is just one more responsibility unassumingly donned by women and like so many of their other contributions in the past, generally goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Unless you are an historian or genealogist – in which case you’re often very grateful!

Mae Gauvreau on the D.A. Thomas holding her Kodak
Brownie camera. Of the photographs in the 1980.1131 donation,
 it is assumed several where taken by her. PRMA1980.1131.021.

As our donation records attest, it is often women who see the importance in collecting and safeguarding their family’s history. Whether it be in photographs, albums, scrapbooks, letters, or diary entries. They recorded minutes at countless meetings, including the societies formed by and for women such as the Imperial Order of Daughters of Empire, the Alberta Women’s Institute, the Lioness Club, Women’s Auxiliary, Anglican Church Ladies, United Church Ladies, Catholic Women’s League, the Kinnettes, Order of the Eastern Star, and later the Legion and Rotary. Many of these items were created by women, and then donated to the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre by them or female descendants.

The museum itself was established by the Peace River Women’s Institute, and prominent names such as Evelyn Mercer, Muriel Oslie, Eva Northey, Evelyn Hansen, Clara Richardson, Barbara Crawford, Evelyn Seeley, Edith Cruickshank, Aurelia Vangrud, Edith Clarke, Lois Stranaghan, Jean Cameron Kelley, Anne Macmillan, Katharine Hoskin Hunt, Adele Boucher and many others continually appear again and again as donors, volunteers, advocates and supporters. They saw the value in preserving these pieces of our community’s history. To all of the women who have contributed to and inspired the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre, we are truly grateful.

Want to know more the records we hold in our archives? Drop in or give us a call or email, and I’d be happy to show you some of our archival material. We have records for several of the organizations mentioned earlier, and thousands of photographs. Or drop into the museum and see our new exhibit Silent Dreams: Their Story, an exhibit that examines the challenges faced by women from pre-fur trade to the present day. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Prof. Dr. Eckhert Ehlers – down to earth

(Sources: Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre files; Sustainable Development of Megacities of Tomorrow)
Recently, Prof. Dr. Eckert Ehlers visited the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre to which he had, previously donated many items, such as academic journals, surveys of various Alberta communities, agricultural books and magazines, reports, soil surveys, diagrams and his thesis: [The Northern Peace River Country/Alberta Canada Genesis and Structure of a Pioneer area in a Boreal Forest Belt of North America].
In the 1960s, Dr. Ehlers was a student in Germany. But, to research his PhD thesis on agriculture and colonization, he chose the Peace Country, spending the academic year 1962-63 as a student at the University of Alberta and his field research in the Peace River area. During the winter, he lived in town with a German family – the Zobels. His days were spent copying homestead records at the Public Lands Office, run by Donald Sawyer.
Dr. Ehlers and Peace River Archivist Carson Murphy
In the summer of 1963, he spent about four months researching his case studies, of which he had five – Fort Vermilion, Worsley and Hines Creek, Shaftesbury Settlement, Fairview and Manning.
Dr. Ehlers has been accompanying The Future Cities Program as a chairman of the panels since 2004. The Research Program “Sustainable Development of the Megacities of Tomorrow, funded by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In its main phase between 2008-2013 focused on “energy and climate-efficient structures in urban growth centre” in developing and newly industrializing countries.
When asked how cities related to climate change, he replied: “The urbanization of the planet is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Over 50 per cent of the people on two per cent of the earth’s surface produce over 75 per cent of the global greenhouse gases. Population growth, scarcity of energy and resources and climate change are closely connected. Both the livability and quality of life in the cities, and the development of climate – and energy efficient urban growth require sustainable solutions and strategies.
The reason for focus on megacities of tomorrow: Future megacities in developing and newly industrializing countries have role-model status in terms of growth and environmental management. Megacities are particularly pioneering in developing innovative solutions that affect national and international urban growth processes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Saddle Up with Cinch

The cover of Wayne Arthur's recently published
autobiography. Copies will be available for purchase
at the Author's launch event at the Museum.

“Fall in the Rockies, elk Bugling, trees a-golden, a chill in the wind, frosty mornings, clear blue skies with silky threads of light cloud. It all goes by so fast. So, let’s get out there before winter,” introduces Chapter Thirteen of Saddle Up With Cinch. Sounds like the days we have experienced, lately.

Dr. Rick Erlendson, a friend of more than 36 years, in his Forward to Cinch’s book writes, “Before long, Cinch was leaving his footprints all over the Peace country. He was a popular speaker across the greater Peace region at conventions, prayer breakfasts and men’s retreats. Some people didn’t even know he was a recording artist (Songs of Pioneer, 1965; Cinch Songs, 1976; Alberta Gold, 1978; It’s a Cinch, 1995). He also performed for many years with the Misery Mountain Boys – invited to perform at EXPO ’86 in Vancouver. More recently, he’s played fiddle with the bluegrass band Peace Valley Boys. Most people thought Cinch’s claim to fame was teaching scripture. 
He was soon a much sought-after announcer on the rodeo circuit, and a popular emcee for everything from bluegrass festivals to community banquets.”

Well, when you read Saddle Up With Cinch you will learn all of this and more about the man who was born Wayne Franklin Arthur in Princeton, B.C. and was a bit of a rascal. “I was always up to something.” His memory takes him back to those days and the journey he has taken to today, which, no doubt, accounts for his book dedication: “To my patient and understanding wife and my four beautiful daughters who nervously lived the stories herein and didn’t want their children to know the details.”

So, come along for the ride with Cinch along the more than 420 pages of memory lane – one of the best literary rides you will ever experience.

Cinch, his books and music will be at the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre, 10302-99 St., Saturday, September 17, 2016, 3-5 p.m.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Artist of the Month – September, 2016

Peace River residents will recognize our September artist of the month, Vivian St. Andre, as someone with a deep personal history in the Peace. Vivian followed her passion for art with a Visual Arts Education through Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC), Athabasca University and Fairview College. She continued to supplement her studies by taking summer art classes in Edmonton and Red Deer and more recently participated in Art History Tours through GPRC/NAIT which took her and fellow travellers/artists to galleries in London, Venice and Eastern Canada.
Vivian deftly captures the expressiveness of the environment, the nuances of everyday objects and musicians and dancers poised at their art. Some may remember her many contributions to art exhibits at the once Fairview College (PR Campus), now Northern Lakes College, Fairview Creative Arts Centre, Grande Prairie Regional College and her works on exhibit with other Peace of Art members at the Library and Art Gallery and  at Java Domain. Do you recall viewing the bold canvass with the cello player intent on the sounds he was drawing from the instrument or the almost life-sized ballerina gracefully bent to wrap the ribbons of her pointe slippers?

“The subject matter of my art is as varied as the mediums I like to work with. The subjects are represented either traditionally or in abstract form. Some may have a voice recognizing human or environmental issues but generally my art expresses my appreciation for the beauty of nature, the human body, people, architecture and the fine arts of music and dance." (Quote by Vivian St. Andre in her artist's statement)

While her favourite medium is pastels, she also works in photography, paints with watercolours, acrylic and in past works explored oils. A canoe on a summer’s day is featured on the Art Wall this month and the poplars of our boreal forest make the viewer feel like reaching out to touch the soft bark painted on another canvass. Reminisce with pioneer school desks or enjoy the architecture of heritage buildings in eastern Canada through the artist’s eye.
Drop by to view Vivian’s work any time from Monday to Saturday between 10am and 5pm.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Kindness Makes the World go Round

Madeline at her 2016 summer tour spot in Downtown Peace River.
There is one tour left on August 18 starting at 12:00; 12:30; and 1:00 pm
by Madeline Martel

Random acts of kindness can strike anywhere, and anytime, which has proven true for me. One may not even be aware that something they do can have such a vast impact on someone’s day, or even life. It’s so easy to generalize human beings as being bad when we look at all the atrocities that people have committed in the past, and are still presently committing, but  anyone who has been witness  to, received, or given, a random act of kindness would disagree with that generalization.

While working as a summer student at the museum this summer, I have been the recipient of a couple acts of kindness that have stood out in my mind all summer long. From generous Shaftesbury Trail residents bringing me water on a particularly hot day at the Mackenzie Cairn, to a young man taking a strong interest in the walking tours, I have truly been moved by the kindness that people have to offer.

Bad news and serious stories plaster the internet, newspapers, radio, and everything in between. Sometimes the headlines are all bad and it seems like nothing good ever happens on a global, or even on a local scale.  Although the “feel good stories” mainly affect a very small portion of the population, they do have a domino effect on a community. Someone does something nice for you; you do something nice for someone else, and so on. Good deeds deserve to be recognized as having a major impact on people’s well-being and overall happiness. 

It’s not as if acts of kindness were not happening while I was growing up in Peace River, living my day to day life, but they seem to stand out so prominently now that I’m only back for the summer. Growing up in a small town can make a young person want to flee, in hopes of finding a more exciting life. This was true for me, but now that I am home for the summer, soon to go back to the city, I am taking in the beauty and kindness that so many people in the Peace Region have to offer. I take the time now to recognize these acts and be grateful that I live in such an amazing place, with so many kind-hearted people. So, thank you, on behalf of everyone who has received a random act of kindness, to those who take the time out of their lives to do these deeds and expect nothing in return.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

Lone surviving Canadian Dambuster has Peace River connection

(Source: East Kootnay News Online Weekly, July 24, 2016 – Elinor Florence)
·   2009.014.320, Glenn Murphy Collection F041
  (l-r) Clara Sutherland (Fred’s mother), Margaret Murphy, Fred 
Sutherland and Margaret Baker Sutherland. ca 1963.
There is so much about Peace River, its people, its history of which many of us are unaware. Take, for instance, Fred Sutherland, whose father Dr. Frederick Henry Sutherland, was one of Peace River Crossings first physicians and whose mother, Clara Caroline Richards was one of the “Crossings” first nurses.
Fred, who shared his parents with sisters Kathleen and Alma, made history in his own right. He is Canada’s last surviving Dambuster – “one of only two men left in the world who participated ‘in one of the most deadly, daring missions of the Second World War’.

When Fred left school at 18, his dream was to be a bush pilot in Canada’s wilderness. To reach that goal, he enlisted in the air force and trained as an air gunner at Brandon, Manitoba. In the spring of 1942, he completed his operational training at Royal Air Force Cottesmore in Rutland, England, where “he crewed up” with Australian Les Knight as his pilot – Sergeant Fred Sutherland the front gunner. They began flying the Lancaster at Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire, in their first operational unit – Royal Air Force Number 50 Squadron.

The seven-man “close-knit” crew survived 25 trips over Europe – a full tour was 30. By March 1943, the crew looked forward to making the remaining five trips and the brief respite that would follow before their final tour of 20 additional trips.

Two crews from the squadron were chosen for a special, top secret project, in exchange for which they would be granted the last five trips of their first tour. “If you had made it through 25 trips, you were doing very well,” Fred recalls in an interview with reporter and relative by marriage, Elinor Florence, in the East Kootnay News Online Weekly, July 24, 2016. “Our crew was considered one of the best. We volunteered for the special mission because we wanted to stay together.”

As it turned out, the mission involved a “bouncing bomb” concept of scientist Barnes Wallis. There were stringent guidelines: “The bomb had to be dropped from an altitude of precisely 60 feet, at an air speed of precisely 390 kilometres per hour, and at a precisely specified distance from the target.”

The crews practised – first with dummy bombs, then with those filled with sand – still unaware their actual target(s) until the night of Operation Chastise – May 16, 1943. “It was a suicide mission”. Targets – three key dams to knock out hydroelectric power and reduce the water supply to the heavily industrialized Ruhr Valley. Fred never expected to survive. Of the 19 Lancasters taking off that night, eight were lost.

The last of the three dams on the agenda – the Eder. Five aircraft pursued the target in heavy fog – the approach made more difficult by the surrounding hills. Fred’s nose gunner position – lying in a transparent bubble at the very front of the aircraft below the cockpit was, as one might imagine, a vulnerable one.

The other aircraft had unsuccessful runs. Then, Fred’s aircraft released the final bomb “at just the precise moment” blowing the dam wide open. “As soon as the dam was hit, the water was going everywhere. There was a bridge down below the dam that just disappeared, just disintegrated. The force was terrific. We couldn’t believe it. We were just yattering away.”

Fred credits his pilot, Les Knight, with this feat. “Jumping over the hill and hitting the right speed and the right height as an act of genius.”

In total, 53 of the 133 airmen on the attack were killed – a casualty rate of 40 percent. Of the 30 Canadians, 14 were killed, one taken prisoner and 15, including Fred, returned to base.

Although this is the end of this mission, it is not the end of Fred’s war experiences before returning to Canada and home in 1944. Waiting for him at the station in Edmonton were his parents and his soon-to-be wife Margaret Baker.

For the rest of the war, Fred served as a gunnery instructor. Following the war, he became a forestry inspector for the Government of Alberta working in Calgary, Edmonton and Rocky Mountain House where he and Margaret currently live an active life – she 94 and he 93.

2009.014.374, Glenn Murphy Collection F041 – Margaret and Fred Sutherland. ca 1990s.

Fred and Margaret Sutherland have three children – Joan, Thomas John and James Duncan. Well, he may not have become a bush pilot, but he did fly and eventually spent time in Canada’s wilderness.   

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dave Matilpi – FROM THE HEART - Artist of the Month of August

A face that easily breaks into a smile, a gray braid down his back, a feather in his hat, Dave Matilpi is an Elder, a Pow Wow dancer, a teacher, an artist, and a gifted communicator.

Dave Matilpi was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia, which is the traditional territory of the Kwakiutl First Nation. 

Papa Dave, as he is known to many students in the Peace who have been influenced by his insight, humour and wisdom, teaches using his traditional and personal stories. These stories are very often the inspiration behind his art work.  As a self-taught artist, he works in wood, antler, ink, paint and murals. One need only visit the Sagitawa Friendship Centre to view a full wall mural created by Dave or see him dancing in his Pow Wow regalia, created in the traditional style with his West Coast designs to appreciate his artistic abilities.

Dave’s West Coast images are striking and bold in colour, expressing, in some, the well-known characteristics of the Wild Woman or the Summer Sisters (also known as, mosquitoes). These works can all be viewed at the Sagitawa Friendship Centre gift shop. I remember when he first presented at the Museum as the Artist of the Month a couple of years ago, he explained how he was beginning to see a blend of West Coast and northern Cree images in his work – the influence of years of living in northern Alberta.

Stolen Family Teachings
Most recently his work reflects his life’s journey, specifically the impact of attending residential school in Alert Bay. His formative years were spent in Alert Bay Residential School. One can see in the images painted on canvas the inspiration and strength he derives from his traditions to move forward and bring awareness and greater understanding to those who see and hear his stories about this personal journey. These are the works currently on display at the Museum. In them, you will see traditional images freely moving on the canvass within the confining shapes and symbols of his residential school experience. The two dichotomies seem to express the ever present memories with the strength and wisdom of the ancient Elders.

Ancestor's Love


Dave Matilpi’s art, like the art of Carey Newman’s Witness Blanket, currently on exhibit, help break the silence about Canada’s residential school system and contribute to the national conversation and healing our country is experiencing.  

Friday, July 29, 2016

The N.A.R. Station celebrates 100 years!

The Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway was incorporated by Dominion Statutes 1907. Its purpose was to run north from Edmonton “by the most feasible route, to a point at or near the town of Dunvegan.” Of course those were the days when it was believed Dunvegan would amount to a great centre instead of the iconic crossing we know it as today.

In the early 1900s, railways were the veins of the country. Across them, from coast to coast, steam engines carried the nation’s manufactured, agricultural, and raw materials. Such an efficient system contributed millions to the nation’s economy. It allowed people to travel more frequently and with greater ease, and also opened the way for better national communication systems with the telegraph lines which often ran parallel to the tracks. It was a time when if you were ‘an-up-and-coming town’, a place with a good future and not just ‘any old town’ you were on the railway – it was your link to the outside world, to investors, to product markets, to labour forces. No better example could be found than Peace River and Grouard. Both were small communities that started as service points. Both were of a comparable size, and offered the same sorts of services. However, when Grouard was by-passed by the railway in 1914, and Peace River received its own station, Peace River prospered, while Grouard gradually declined.

The railway made it to Judah Hill in 1915, and passengers and goods could disembark and embark there for trains to Edmonton and Grande Prairie. Railway workers were busy erecting the Heart River Trestle (completed May of 1916) and others the railbed from the Heart River, across Pat’s Creek to where the station is. A spur line was also in the works for the warehouse district near the river. Trains were anticipated to be running to the site of the station as early as the end of July – right around this time of month. The station that was to be erected was meant to “be the largest and best building of the kind erected on the lines of the company.” And was it! It was on par with Grande Prairie’s, McLennan’s and later Fahler and Spirit River. It was expected to be in use by the end of the summer.

The N.A.R. railway station shortly after Northern Alberta Railways
was formed in 1929, awaiting the arrival of Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir,
the Governor General of Canada and his wife. From the Cruickshank
Family fonds, F044.002.103.

The E.D. & B.C. was optimistic in 1916. Surveying crews worked on establishing future routes from Peace River to Fort Vermilion via Battle River (Manning). Can you imagine how different Fort Vermilion might be had they been successful?  

The railway continued west with the completion of the Million Dollar Bridge in 1918, reaching Berwyn in 1921, Whitelaw in 1924, Fairview in 1928, and Hines Creek in 1930 when the railway movement had run out of steam and the Great Depression began. 

The station building was enlarged in the late 1930s, and passenger service ceased in May of 1960. It was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource 29 Apr 1988. Rescued in 1992 and restored to its former glory (and thankfully repainted from the N.A.R. colours) the building is a lasting reminder of our proud railway heritage.  Thankfully Peace River is lucky, and the lovely simple Edwardian building is still with us today to celebrate 100 years. 

Join us for a BBQ, pie and ice cream Saturday Jul 30th from 11 to 2pm at the NAR station in Peace River to celebrate its 100th birthday. Details can be found on the Peace River Museum Facebook page or on the town’s website: . The museum has also issued a series of archival postcards commemorating the community's milestones including the NAR Station, Heart River trestle and the D.A. Thomas – these are available for sale in our giftshop.

The postcard available for sale in the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre commemorating the NAR station's 100th birthday. Drop by and browse our selection of other anniversary postcards.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Witness Blanket

By Laura Love
Using a traditional quilting style, artist Carey Newman not only weaves cedar together with items from residential schools and government buildings, but the memories and stories associated with them. The 887 objects that were found and retrieved from communities all over Canada relay very profound messages; connecting cultures, traditions and histories.  Like the cast off pieces of fabric from old shirts, blankets, and dresses used to make beautiful patchwork quilts, Newman has taken previously used items that became cast off to create a beautiful memorial.

Giving these items purpose again, the symbolism of many of the objects that were discarded and reclaimed have also given the Witness Blanket an alternate way to speak to Canada’s darker residential school history on many different levels.  He has taken the mundane, the everyday, and the innocent and woven them together in such a way to make us think about the people and experiences behind them. Many items hold multiple meanings – where some people may view them one way and others another. The pair of skates speaks to sports and laughter and community to some, while to others these items may reach a different, deeper meaning.  The small statue of Mary may bring comfort to some, and anxiety to others.  The bricks that are affixed to the blanket may symbolise grand old buildings, but may have been sources of intimidation to others, where terrible things happened behind their ‘beautiful’ facades. Some children even carved their name into them as a way of remembrance of who they were…
Braided hair within the Witness Blanket
The physical objects are woven together by photographs, survivor testimony, newspaper articles and legislation. Some are harder to see and read than others, further developing the symbolism of the Residential forgotten story, emphasizing the struggle to see what was happening in our own country. With faded photographs, and the small, almost illegible text on select tiles, Newman has increasingly created a tough narrative to read, but one that piques our need to understand, encouraging us to try to decipher what the items say. As an artist and one whose family experienced residential school history has been able to articulate the increasingly important story of the Canadian Residential School system using artistic interpretation and personal involvement with survivors. The artistic quilting of these objects create and inspire conversation that help us document and share the Residential School story.
Like the traditionally stitched quilt that is passed down from generation to generation, Newman has given Canada a new blanket to appreciate and pass down to future generations.