Monday, November 30, 2015

Our boreal forest – teller of tree tales

Just a peek into a portion of the Museum’s boreal forest exhibit featuring diverse aspects of the forest – its birds, bugs, soils – its ecosystem.
George Berkley asked the question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” It depends on how one interprets sound, don’t you think? It may have to do with another of our human senses – sight – whether  one can’t see the forest for the trees – where things are so obvious, they’re obscure. That certainly goes for many of us, who haven’t really seen the boreal forest so intimately, in our own backyard, or heard how important it is to our economy – our well-being – our quality of life – our sense of nature – flora and fauna – so much.
Vernon John Leger is a man of many talents – music is only one he actively shared with guests, Saturday evening, November 21, as they strolled through the opening of the Museum exhibit – When a Tree Falls in the Forest. However, examples of his diverse artwork were featured on the Museum’s art wall for all to see. “He [Vernon] has grown from generations of creativity: his parents and grandparents being thoughtful artists and musicians”.
The staff of the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre, with the help of so many supporters, is proud to offer some insight into our boreal forest in its current exhibit When a Tree Falls in the Forest and hopes you will be able to enter our boreal forest and learn about its inhabitants, just as the staff has over the months of preparation.

As you stroll through the Museum’s forest exhibit, you will sense the importance of this forest that extends from the Yukon and northern British Columbia in the west to Newfoundland and Labrador in the east – Canada’s largest vegetation zone, making up 55 per cent of the country’s land mass. It is home to more than 40 species of fish, 50 different types of mammals and numerous flora and vegetation species.

Although the zone has varied terrain, including lakes and wetlands, the majority of the region is dominated by trees. The forest houses a diversity of life, and is crucial to maintaining biological diversity, storing carbon, purifying air and water, and regulating the climate. While 2.5 million Canadians live in the boreal zone, the forest provides a global community with jobs and economic stability.
Come to the Museum and learn more about our boreal forest and hear and see the tales it tells Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission $2. Over Christmastime, the Museum will be closed Dec. 24, 25, 26 and Jan. 1.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

History on the run brings rewards

On a fine fall day on the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre grounds, a metal tipi in the background, sculpted by artist Sonya Rosychuk, Peace River Running Club’s Marian Craig presents Museum researcher Beth Wilkins with a cheque for $4,000. The monies were the running club’s donation from this year’s Heritage Run. 

Each year, for the past 20-some years, the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre (Peace River Centennial Museum, when the run took off) has been the beneficiary of the effort of the Peace River Running Club, run participants and sponsors.

The annual June event is not only a run – it’s what participants make it – a run, walk, sponsorship, spectatorship, a get-together with people not seen for ages and a glorious opportunity to support the museum and its stewardship of history. This support helps the Museum and Archives not only be a depository for donated artifacts, but also to display those artifacts and tell the stories of the people who were associated with them. 

Over the years, the number of participants has increased, as has the monetary benefit to the Museum. Last year, there were seven teams and 144 individual participants for a total of 179, which through a portion of their entry fee, yielded a $4,000 donation to the Museum. This year, the number of participants increased to 220 – eight teams and 180 individual participants, providing another $4,000 to the Museum. It goes to show – numbers count.

Laura Gloor, Museum co-ordinator, and her staff are appreciative of the efforts and generosity of the running club and Museum supporters. The donation provides a means for the purchase of display cabinets and other items that might not otherwise be possible to enhance the Museum experience for visitors.

As mentioned earlier, sponsors certainly play a large role in the Peace River Running Club’s presentation. This year, they included: Tim Hortons, Mathieu Hyrniuk LLP; InVision Chartered Accountants; Waterworks Plus; Weaver Welding; Marshall Automotive; Fitness on the Go; Caribou Cresting; many of which have been there for the running club and the Museum for many years.

Monday, October 19, 2015

October Artist of the Month: Barry Warne

October Artist of the Month Barry Warne with some of his fantastic landscapes
Landscape artist– Barry Warne
The month of October features works from local artist Barry Warne who draws inspiration for his work from his awareness and appreciation of the natural world.  His landscapes are evocative of his memories of  life in England and of the Peace Country that has become home for he and his family  since 1957.
Acrylics and oils are his choice medium for the detailed farms, valleys and roadways he paints  but he also photographs a favorite bird or two.  An added feature to each piece is the handcrafted frame and matte that Barry makes himself, as one who enjoys working with wood.
Barry paints for the enjoyment and as a remainder to the viewer to look carefully at the natural world around us. With this large world view, he directs the proceeds of his sales to the Alzheimer’s Society research work.
Works are for sale and can be viewed, without a fee, until the end of October, 2015.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Archaeology Talks!

The Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre is pleased to host Todd Kristensen, archaeologist from Alberta Culture, on October 15th, 2015 between 4pm & 5pm and again from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Todd is inviting everyone to bring in stone tool and other specimens found in the area.
Todd will talk about four recent projects he has been involved with: ancient fishing research, Alberta’s northern boating, ancient hunting, and sourcing the obsidian quarries from which pieces in the Peace have been found. Todd is also very interested in viewing stone tools found in this area so if you have items, please consider  bringing them in to be photographed by Todd.
Obsidian tools found in Alberta from quarries in British Columbia and the US Pacific Northwest.
If you would like to read about some of his recent research, please visit Alberta Culture at 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Diverse artistic expression takes artist out of comfort zone

Featured for the month of September at the Museum are the diverse works of local artist Jesse Anne Rovang. As one can see, the term diverse is not used lightly in describing Jesse’s creative talents.

There are artists, who seem to be content to work in only a few mediums. There are artists, who are not content unless they have explored a multitude of mediums and styles. There are artists, who are not content because there is more to explore, so little time in which to do it, and so many diverse ways to express their creative nature.

Well, Jesse Anne (née Green) Rovang is one, who, since 1971, has not run out of ways to express her creative talent. The local artist is also Don’s partner in farming, so the countryside and its inhabitants – whether it be flora, fauna or equipment – in all seasons, are stimuli.

Although Jesse’s artwork is diverse, her favourite medium is watercolours. “It is so gentle and expressive.” That may be true, but she has the audacity to venture out of her comfort zone into oils, acrylics (she can become one with it), working with fungi on pulp with blueing (because of the chance she takes each time), leaves, and found antlers and horns.

Her works have sold widely and been applauded, not only locally, but also worldwide and may be seen in many corporate offices throughout the province and beyond.

Jesse’s artwork also ventures into the realm of food – specifically, wild and tame berry jams and jellies – wild strawberry the ultimate favourite.

Jesse’s varied artwork is featured for the month of September at the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sisters in Spirit Walk, Sunday, October 4, 2015

The annual October 4 Sisters in Spirit Walk this year is a Sunday. The “emotional poignant trek honours missing and murdered aboriginal women and men across the country”. The Walk is organized by the Peace River Aboriginal Interagency Committee “to bring awareness, conversation, healing”.

Members of the committee met, recently, at the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre to prepare the small red bundles containing tobacco and prayers, which having been smudged, will be handed out at the beginning of the Walk.

The Walk begins with a gathering at Riverdrive Mall at 12:30 p.m. and proceeds at 1 p.m. along Main Street to 100 Avenue leading to Riverfront Park. It is here, the bundles will be placed in a sacred fire and the names read of missing and murdered women – a bell being rung after each group of names with those in attendance saying, “Creator hear our prayer”.

Helping, healing hands prepare bundles containing tobacco and prayers to be handed out at the Sisters in Spirit Walk, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, organized by the Peace River Interagency Committee.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Villa holds Peace River history

A testament to built heritage - 
Lt-Col. James Kennedy Cornwall, also known as Peace River Jim and the Apostle of the North, for his passionate love of this part of the country returned to Edmonton in 1918 following his service in the First World War.

He returned to The Villa, a grand Highlands green and white Tudor mansion, built for his wife, Evelyn, and family in 1912 “to stand stately on the eastern lip of the Groat Ravine”. He continued his business ventures, although somewhat thwarted by the stock market crash of 1929. He lost The Villa, but not his resiliency.
James Kennedy's Villa in Edmonton built in 1912. Recently sold for $1.45 million. Photo by John Lucas, Edmonton Journal

Historian and author Hugh A. Dempsey writes, "Cornwall had made a tangible contribution to the northland and people loved him for it. Mr. Cornwall had done more to show the world the country north of Edmonton, said the Calgary Herald, than any government, church or individual. He believed in it and he preached it, he lived there and he finally convinced others to try and see if it was not what he said. They have tried and found it so, and Edmonton is proud of him, and the northland loves him, and the entire province is glad and proud to know that there lives within its boundaries a man of such public spirit and absolute confidence as J. K. Cornwall. "

The Villa, a testament to built heritage, over the years has housed several owners. Most recently, the 7,000- square-foot home with three bricks thick walls, exuding “rustic grace and charm” had been on the market for two years. Even with its historical significance, it was without a heritage designation. Concern was that even if the house was sold, it might be demolished. The realtor is quoted: “You can’t create history and leave a legacy for younger people without leaving these properties. There’s not enough of that around Edmonton.” 
Alas, it was purchased in early August 2015 for a reported $1.45 million. In addition, the buyer paid between $50,000 and $150,000 for its antique furnishings. The intent of the buyer is for his family to live in The Villa, after making a few upgrades and perhaps have it as a Bed and Breakfast

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fossilized Teeth

The Peace River Museum contains in its collection several animal teeth in various stages of fossilization. The oldest of these are the baby Albertosaurus teeth, which are over 70 million years old. The Albertosaurus was a fearsome predator that was closely related to the Tyrannosaurus Rex. When found near Peace River in 1979, they were initially thought to be bear teeth, but paleontologist Robin Sissons later correctly identified them in 2011.

Albertosaurus teeth

     An excellent fossilized animal tooth that was found in the Heart River was recently brought in on loan to the museum. It is at this time unclear what species it belonged to, but it bears a striking resemblance to the fossilized bison tooth that the museum has in its collection, due to both its shape and several distinctive markings. The roundedness of the specimen indicates that it was eroded and transported down the river for some distance, though by its excellent preservation we can conclude that it was only recently unearthed from its burial site.

Mystery fossil find

Fossilized bison tooth

     The museum also has a deer tooth and a sheep tooth that are very recent, as evidenced by their perfect shape and white, bone-like luster. This is in sharp contrast to the dinosaur and bison teeth, which have been transformed into rock over vast periods of time.

Sheep tooth (left) and deer tooth (right)

     Perhaps the most exciting tooth in the collection is the massive woolly mammoth molar that was recovered not too far from Peace River and donated by Dr. Sutherland. Woolly mammoths were large, hairy elephant-like creatures that went extinct about 10 000 due to climate change and human predation.

Woolly Mammoth tooth

     Water levels continue to remain low throughout the Peace River region, so new fossil finds will no doubt abound this season. Be sure to get out there and find some of your own before the long winter sets in!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Local Rocks and Fossils Display

Hot summer weather creates low water levels around the Peace River that bring conditions perfect for fossil and rock hunting. Local geo-enthusiasts have had great luck this year, so much so that a new display case has been set up to display these fantastic finds.
      Donors include the regionally renowned amateur rockhound Don Holt, whose great mineral and fossil collection is still being processed by the Museum. A massive dinosaur bone and a crystalline geode are included from this collection. Some younger fossil-hunters include Sophie Gustafson, who spotted a 500-million year old colonial coral on the banks of the Smoky River. Aadam Stalker is a particularly active collector; his finds in the area include high-quality granite, ammonite fossils and large gypsum crystals. Hali-Ann Thorpe has located and donated river-eroded ironstone, quartz and excellent talc specimens. Bill Veidt, featured in an earlier post, has also loaned out his jadeite adze that he found near Peace River.

         If you should be out and spot an interesting rock or fossil, feel free to bring it in to show us. We may even feature it in the case!