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.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Holt Geology Collection

With summer almost upon us, now is the perfect time to turn our eyes to the natural world and appreciate the beauty of the Peace River landscape. The recent donation of the Holt Collection of geological artifacts provides a great opportunity to examine some of nature’s most exciting relics. The Holt collection includes a diverse array of rocks, minerals and fossils that were collected by Don Holt throughout his life.

 On a hot and sunny Friday morning, the Peace River museum was lucky to have the help of Don (a different Don!) and Jim, two local rockhounds, to aid Collections Assistant Rhys in identifying the items in the Holt Collection and determining their origin. While many were from the exotic locales that Don Holt had visited during his travels, such as the African agates and Brazilian opals, many more were found to have originated in the Peace River area. Don described the intricate crystal structure of the geodes, and Jim identified many fossil types that he himself had found in the region.
              The Peace River museum has its own rock and fossil display, which can be found contained in lighted display cases in the Peace River Gallery.

Ammonite Fossil

Monday, May 25, 2015

All Aboard!

“We are advised that as a special feature for the visitors, who will be in Peace River over the 24th of May, the river boat D. A. Thomas, will make a river excursion on that day, leaving Peace River at three o’clock in the afternoon. The trip will be for 25 miles up the river, arriving back at Peace River about 10 o’clock at night.

“There will be an orchestra aboard and provision will be made for dancing. This will be a very pleasant trip and no doubt will be availed of by a large number of the visitors in Peace River ...”

The aforementioned advertisement was seen in the May 17, 1926, Grande Prairie Herald. It is imagined that the Boudoir piano (ca. 1904-1915) on display in the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre was instrumental in providing music for the dancers on that trip.

Boudoir pianos were designed for people wishing a keyboard instrument, but who were restricted to a small space. Allan Sproul donated the piano to the Museum in 1983. His parents, Rowland and Clare, had acquired it from Ellen Eddie about 1955.

PRMA 1980.1140.002
PRMA 1992.020.007


Friday, May 15, 2015

Peace River swept by Orange Crush

For the first time in forty-four years, Alberta witnessed an “orange crush” that swept the province into a new provincial government led by the NDP. Peace River experienced its own Orange Crush much earlier when the new bottling plant for the famed soda beverage established itself here in the 1920s/1930s. At that time it was located at 9812 100 Ave (where the present day City on a Hill Church is), and was owned by the Scott Fruit Company.
In 1949, George and Vivian Pratt moved to Peace River and bought the old bottling depot.  They decided to build a new plant in 1953, and constructed it parallel to Main Street on 99th Street. Orange Crush at the time cost between 7 and 10 cents a bottle, and was first bottled in crinkle glass bottles before the standard glass bottle became the preferred. The depot also bottled Kik Cola, American Dry, Grape Crush and Root Beer. Deliveries went out to Worsley, Hotchkiss and around Peace River.
The picture shows the new Orange Crush plant on 99 Street in the 1950s. Third from the left is Edward Pilkafski, and fifth from the left is Donny Lovelock. Edward worked at the depot for six and a half years as a delivery man.

The Pratts sponsored a women’s baseball team during the company’s operation, and the museum has some of the memorabilia in its collection, including one of the player’s sweaters.
The Pratts decided to sell the business in 1963, and the building was remodelled into offices. Though the bottling depot in Peace River is now no more, many of us still enjoy an Orange Crush pop every now and again.

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Royal Soother

With the recent arrival of Princess Charlotte, we thought we would feature this antique soother, manufactured in 1897, as part of our collection and currently on exhibit in the Toy Stories. The soother was donated 1977 by Jean Hargrave (nee Cruickshank).
           Although it appears wooden, the soother is made from natural rubber, as you would expect from an object meant to go into a baby’s mouth! Although this material would go on to revolutionize modern industry in Canada, this rubber was likely imported from South America. The budding overseas rubber industries closely protected their trade, and exporting rubber tree seeds from Brazil was even considered a capital offense at that time.

PRMA 77.759.5
On one face of the soother we can see a picture of Queen Victoria, the ruling monarch of England during that time. Despite gaining independence from England in 1867, many Canadians retained fond memories of their former rulers, and the continued influx of English immigrants contributed to the enthusiasm towards the Crown. Even 108 years after the manufacture of the soother, the Royal Family remains ever popular with Canadians, especially with the recent birth of Princess Charlotte. However, I don’t think the modern and savvy Prince William would be too happy using the likeness of his great-great-great-great-grandmother on his daughter’s pacifier!