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!


Monday, July 20, 2015


American paddler more into the silent sports

Bill Nedderman of Iowa has been paddling the routes of North American explorers and voyageurs, such as Alexander Mackenzie, DavidThompson, Simon Fraser and Lewis and Clark since 1998 in his handmade, collapsible canoe outfitted with a small solar panel to charge one LED light, radio and phone batteries.

This summer’s journey began at Prince George and on to the Grease Trail, once travelled by Sir Alexander Mackenzie and his voyageurs, on the way to the Pacific, assisted by First Nation guides. Bill did not reach the famous Bella Coola rock which bears the vermilion painted inscription “Alex Mackenzie from Canada by land 22nd July 1793” because it is only accessible by boat.

He hitchhiked back to Prince George where he had left his canoe and supplies.  From here he canoed the Nacho River to where it confluences with the Fraser River and spent 32 hours paddling 27 miles along the Fraser following Simon Fraser’s route, not Mackenzie’s.

Eventually, he is on the Peace River downstream from the Bennett and Peace Canyon dams near Hudson’s Hope, B. C. Taking his time, he reached Peace River seven days later.

During his travels, Bill tries to set up camp along a river where a tributary enters. These places usually have flat, accessible land for camping. When in communities, such as Peace River, he visits the library to use a computer to catch up on his e-mail and keep in contact with family and friends. In the case of Peace River, he visited the Museum to conduct some research.

Bill’s final destination is Fort Chipewyan.

 
Bill Nedderham in our Museum's Fur Trade Gallery. In the background
 is the birch bark canoe built by John Zeitoun in 2001.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

July Artist of the Month

Sue Cloake is featured as the Artist of the Month for July. Sue, a local artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Alberta, describes her work as being her "impressions of nature and an exploration of ideas and imagination".  This month's exhibit of acrylic paintings of shells from our ancient oceans are both impressionist and expressionist. The colours and repetitive patterns encourage one to imagine the life once housed in these 'houses' of shell and to think of the millions of years ago when the oceans covered this land from the Gulf of Mexico to our northern latitudes.  Along with Sue's expression and appreciation of nature's patterning, the Museum has created a small exhibit of actual fossils from that long ago time. These fossils are part of a much larger collection of Don Holt, a well-known rock hound from the Peace. Most of the fossils on exhibit are examples of what an aware hiker with sharp eyes might find along the tributaries of the Peace River.
 
Additional fossils, along with rocks, from the Don Holt Collection and from other local donors are also on exhibit in the Peace River Gallery this summer. Over the decades, the Museum has been a repository of historically significant items, such as the rocks and fossils, which help tell our story.
 
 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Heritage Tours 2015


The Museum is pleased to present an opportunity to all those interested in learning more about Peace River’s rich heritage! Guided tours will be taking place throughout July and August at the St. Augustine Mission Church and downtown Peace River.

The St. Augustine Mission Church is a Provincial Historic site located along the scenic Shaftesbury Trail. Take a peek inside the church, walk amongst the headstones, and get a sense of what life at the mission was like. The site is closed to the public outside of scheduled tour hours, so take this opportunity to learn about this site’s history and importance to our community! Another important area for Peace River is the downtown core.  A heritage interpreter will guide walking tours and provide information about historic buildings, people, and areas.

Drop by during the scheduled times below.

St. Augustine Mission Church Site:
Highway 684 (Shaftesbury Trail), River Lot 22 on the Peace River Correctional Centre’s grounds.
·         July 5
·         July 12
·         July 26
·         August 2
·         August 9
·         August 23

A heritage interpreter will be on site from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. those interested are encouraged to come at any point during that time.
 
 


Downtown historic tours:
·         Mondays: Starting @ 10:30am on July 6, 13, 20, 27 & August 10, 17, 24 beginning at Linc Weaver Park

·         Thursdays: Starting @ 7pm on July 9, 16, 23, 30 & August 6, 13, 20 beginning at the museum

Each tour is approximately 60 minutes long.

For more information call the museum at 780.624.4261

(click on picture to enlarge)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

First Nations Artifacts

With the arrival of Aboriginal Day on the 21st of June, the Museum would like to shine a spotlight on the variety of early First Nations tools and artifacts that have been found in the Peace River area.
       The First Nations peoples did not work metal. Instead, they used rocks that they found already present in their natural environment to craft durable tools. Some examples include spear tips and arrowheads for hunting game, as well as scrapers for preparing hides to be used in clothing or the building of shelters.
White chert bifacial lanceolate
Banded grey chert lanceolate
        The rocks chosen for tool-making were not picked at random from the ground. The First Nations people would painstakingly gather special stones called chert (flint), quartzite and obsidian. These rocks do not contain planes of weakness in their crystal structure, so instead of fracturing randomly when struck, their shape could be carefully controlled. This is, of course, provided the striker possessed sufficient patience and skill. Chert and quartzite were the most common materials used, and come in a wide range of colours and hues. Considerably rarer, obsidian is a volcanic glass, and one of the sharpest known materials. It is usually quite dark and highly reflective. The obsidian scraper pictured below was likely traded from a distant region, as volcanism and its products are not typically found in the Peace River area.

Quartzite bifacial scraper
Black obsidian scraper
           More First Nations artifacts can be found in the Archeology Case in the Peace River Gallery.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Aboriginal Jadeite Adze

         As we approach the date of the Annual Aboriginal Gathering and Pow Wow, the recent donation of a jadeite adze found south of Grimshaw area by Bill Veidt comes at an opportune time.
Jadeite Adze (on loan from Bill Veidt)
         Jadeite is a variety of jade, a strong and hardy material characterized by its distinctive green hue. Its strength lends itself well to tool-making, though the material itself is quite rare. This adze was therefore most likely an object of great importance and prestige. The crafting of such an device was a labour-intensive process, with countless hours of sawing, cutting, grinding and polishing. The product of these efforts is a long-lasting and high-quality tool that is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the First Nations craftsmen. The age of this adze could range from hundreds to thousands of years old. As you can see, it has withstood the test of time remarkably!
Bill Veidt
        While the majority of jadeite artifacts recovered in Alberta were found in the Peace River region, most jadeite tools are associated with the west coast of BC. This is because the First Nations peoples of BC had increased access to quarries and had developed larger-scale stoneworking and woodcutting practices relative to the more mobile people of the plains. The geology of BC is also such that jadeite, a metamorphic rock, forms much more commonly in mountainous regions raised by plate subduction. It is believed that this stone in particular came from the Fraser River Valley of BC. So, this tool was likely traded from afar and had quite a journey before arriving in the Peace Country.

Example of a completed adze
         Even more ancient tools can be found in the Archaeology Case in the Peace River Gallery of the museum, including chert and even black obsidian artifacts.