Friday, October 1, 2010

Peace Country Kids Exhibit Launch

Peace Country Kids: An exhibit about Childhood in the Peace
This exhibit was inspired by the theme of this year's Alberta Archives Week, which is "Growing Up Albertan". The Peace River Archives wanted to preserve stories of "Peace Country Kids" who grew up in the region. To help us gather these stories, we have enlisted the aid of Springfield School's Grade 4 class who have each found one of these Peace Country Kids to ask 10 interview questions. These questions have been formed into an exhibit that highlights the changes and the similarities of childhood of the past and present. The exhibit will run for the month of October 2010.

We hope you will be able to join us on Monday, October 4th between 6:30 and 8 pm for a special launch party. Door prizes and historic games will be available to help celebrate the accomplishments of our young historians.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meet the Author: Keith Hansen

Keith Hansen's book, "North from Edmonton: The Northern Alberta Railways" is of interest to anyone who wishes to follow the railroad on it's push north. The railroad was the lifeline of many communities for transportation of goods and people out of the remote north for many years and Keith's book is filled with intense detail, glossy photographs and maps that really bring to life this vital link to the rest of the province.

The author, Keith Hansen, will be at the Peace River Museum (10302 99th Street) on Wed., August 25th from 6:30 to 8 pm to discuss his book and sign copies.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

NEW Virtual Exhibit: Transporting Northern Dreams

Thanks to support from the Canadian Heritage Information Network, Dallas Wood has written a new virtual exhibit entitled, "Transporting Northern Dreams: Steamboats on the Peace River, 1903-1930" which is available on or you can use this link.

The story of the steamboats is one that is essential to the development of the Peace Region. The rivers were the highways of the early days before the railway reached our area. Boats and scows were even used up until 1950 for freighting.

There are different ways to view the exhibit. Under the "Stories" category, you can read through the exhibit with all the text in order. If you are interested in browsing the photographs with only their captions, choose the "Gallery" option and if you are looking for a specific photograph, use the "Thumbnail Gallery" option.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Peaceful Portraits of the Peace

On Heritage Day, August 2nd, the Museum will be conducting two interpretive strolls (11 am or 2pm) through Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Peace River. Your guides will be highlighting historic personalities buried on these grounds.

One of the early settlers buried at Mount Pleasant is well-known Pierre Gauvreau, who was born in 1888 and came to Peace River in 1911 with his wife, Mae, to become the first telegraph officer in the town. He remained in Peace River until his death in 1966. One of Pierre's persistent projects was the grave of Henry Fuller "12 Foot" Davis. He is pictured here sitting beside the grave that he helped to restore and to look after. It is also said that he supported Jim Cornwall in moving the remains of Mr. Davis to its current site overlooking the Town of Peace River.

Pierre loved Peace River and was quoted as saying:
“The lure of the north cannot be defined, suffice to say, but the oldtimer, the pioneer in every sense of the word, remains to watch the result of his work and faith unfold itself before his very eyes.”

Please join us with sturdy footwear on August 2nd at 11am-12pm or 2-3 pm to meet the fascinating figures of Peace River's past!
Remember to dress for the weather!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

An Evening on the Peace

Tonight will mark one of the final events for the 2010 Alberta Summer Games - 'An Evening on the Peace' at the Museum (10302 99th Street) tonight between 7 and 9 pm. Admission is by donation and all are welcome. There will be a delicious snack of strawberries and chocolate and a chance to meet new faces that have arrived in our town for the Games. We hope to see you tonight!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lucille deBeauchap on reaching the summit of Mount Everest.

Lucille deBeauchap, who grew up in the Peace Country at Donnelly, was once encouraged by a teacher to write a "bucket list" of things she wanted to do in her life. At the top of that list was to climb Mount Everest. And just last month, on May 7, 2010, Lucille stood at the summit. You can read about her amazing journey at her blog at

Lucille will be in Peace River on June 8th at 7pm at the Catholic Conference Centre (10307 99th Street) to show photos and talk about this incredible experience. We hope you will all be able to join us.
Lucille on the summit of Mount Everest.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Place in Mind: The Search for Authenticity by Avi Friedman

We are excited to host another author in June, one Dr. Avi Friedman, who was also the contractor for our Town's recent Downtown Revitalization and Tourism Action Plans.

Dr. Friedman has written a new book, "A Place in Mind: The Search for Authenticity" and will be at the Museum on June 11th at 7pm to give a short presentation about his new work.

from Vehicule Press:

"...Avi Friedman conveys his excitement at discovering people-friendly places - antidotes to social isolation. Searching for good places - authentic places - and wondering about the disappearance of others, are at the heart of A Place in Mind..."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The 2010 Heritage Run

The annual Heritage Run is held by the Peace River Running Club with proceeds going to us!
It is being held on Sunday, June 13, 2010. There are 5 different choices for all levels of interest:
Half Marathon
10 km individual run
5 km individual run
5 x 2 km relay
5 km walk

The half marathon event begins at 8 am with all others beginning at 8:30 am. Registration forms can be picked up at the Museum (10302 99th Street).

We truly appreciate the work that the Running Club does each year and the runners who have participated over the years. We encourage everyone to come participate in the event!

For more information, please contact Frits Dijk at or Marian Craig at

Monday, May 24, 2010

Shirlee Mattheson visits the Peace River Country

We are excited to welcome Shirlee Matheson to the north. With the aid of the Peace River Air Show Committee, the Museum will be hosting Shirlee on June 1st at 7pm where she will be reading from her new book, "Amazing Flights and Flyers". One of the chapters, "The Murphys of Musk-Ox Lake" tells the tale of Peace River's Neill Murphy who worked in the wilderness of the Northwest Territories for many years, first with his father, a trapper and later as an engineer for Yellowknife Airways. According to Alberta History magazine editor, Hugh Dempsey, "Author Matheson interviewed him [Neill Murphy] at length and so the stories take on a personal touch as they deal with accomplishments, disasters, and the adventures of Northern aviation." (Spring 2010).
We hope you will be able to join us on June 1st to meet Shirlee and get your copy of any of her amazing books autographed!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Highlights of Our Collection

This photograph, from the Edward Whittaker fonds, shows the team of geologists who travelled north along through the Peace River region, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and the Yukon between 1916 and 1921. This collection of beautiful photographs is available for researchers at the Peace River Archives.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More Highlights of our collection

These four fine, young officers of Peace River in the 1930s show off their bloodhound, Melody, who appears to be not cooperating for the shoot.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Highlights of our collection

This photograph of Jack O'Sullivan and what is likely his son ranks high for it's adorable factor as well as the fact that O'Sullivan and Stigsen was one of the last boat companies to freight up and down the Peace River. Their company was the end of an era in river transportation.

For anyone interested in this era, the Museum Gift Shop has a lovely little book, "Where Go the Boats?" by Evelyn Hanson for $5 that summarizes wonderfully, the boats on the Peace River from 1792-1952.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Archival Photograph Highlights

Whew, we've been so busy setting up our newest exhibit, "Play On! A History of Sport and Culture in Peace River", we've barely had time to breathe! So for the next little while, we will be posting our favorite archival photographs. Enjoy!

This is one of our Archivist's favorite: From left to right we have Brother Wagner, Philip Gerard and James St. Germain at the St. Augustine Mission school, ca. 1940s. James was a former student of the school who later worked for the school doing various things. In this photograph he appears quite James Bond-esque in his driving scarf, sunglasses and cigarette.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Upcoming Exhibit: Play On!

The staff at the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre are gearing up for our next exhibit: Play On! A History of Sport and Culture in Peace River. The exhibit goes hand in hand with the Peace River, Grimshaw and area hosting the the 2010 Alberta Summer Games this year. We will be highlighting summer and winter sports as well as dances, theater, cultural experiences, and music. As always, we invite and encourage members of the community with relevant items to bring them in for the exhibit. Examples could include sports equipment, medals, uniforms, photos or documents. Also, promotional posters, programs, recordings and photographs from performances would be lovely. Some choose to donate the items and others choose to loan the item for the length of the exhibit, we are just as pleased for both!

Also, if you have memories or stories from these types of events, we would love to hear them and add them to our knowledge of the history of sport and culture in Peace River.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Spirit of the Peace Museums Group meets in Peace River

The Spirit of the Peace Museums Group was started in December of 1989 and celebrated its 20th anniversary just last year! The group consists of approximately 60 members (both museums and individuals) who meet quarterly and discuss the issues that face us, share our goings-ons and just support each other.

On March 1st 2010, we met at the Senior's Drop-in Centre and had a lovely time. David Leonard was in attendance to speak to what the province is doing regarding culture, we discussed the upcoming forum with Alberta Museums Association regarding their strategic planning process and did our regular round table discussion on what projects we were working on.

The Senior's Centre made delicious biscuits for breakfast and soup and sandwiches for lunch. A tour of the Museum followed the meeting.

For more information about some of the Museums involved in the Spirit of the Peace, please see our brochure.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

PRADS African Night a Success: Part 2

The Peace River African Descendents Society (PRADS), which was started in 2009, held cultural experience with dinner and music on Saturday, Feburary 20th. Laura Gloor of the Museum had been invited to talk about black pioneers in the area. The information from her wonderful presentation has been reproduced here in two parts!

Part 2: The Kelly Family

The timeline for the Kelly family is uncertain. It is believed that Mr. and Mrs. Dan Kelly brought their family to Peace River in the 1920's. We can only speculate that the Kelly family were likely part of the original wave of Black American immigrants to Canada's West between 1908 and 1911. Dan Kelly was known as "Nigger" Dan, years after Dan Williams, who was also known by that name.

Dan Kelly hauled the honey wagon in Peace River (an essential service that pumped out residential outhouses ). He and his family lived just outside the Belle Petroleum Centre in a house still standing today. This same house was purchased from the Kelly's by Dave and Johanna Steedsman in 1937 and Dave also took over the job of hauling the honey wagon. Near this home was a popular sledding hill for the children of Peace River colloquially known as "Nigger" Hill even as late as the early 1960s.
Unfortunately, none of the names of the other members of Dan's family are known, except that one of his daughter's name was Emma. It is known though that his three daughters had beautiful singing voices. It seems the family moved to Toronto to give the girls a better chance to pursue their singing careers and that Dan later returned to Peace River on his own. He lived with a single mother in town, and it was believed that a child resulted from this union.

Here are some more pictures from the PRADS event:

The band, Ezeadi Onukwulu & One Human Race, had everyone up and dancing!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

PRADS African Night a Success!

The Peace River African Descendents Society (PRADS), which was started in 2009, held a dinner and cultural experience on Saturday, February 20th. Laura Gloor, of the Museum had been invited to talk about black pioneers in the area. The information from her wonderful presentation has been reproduced here in two parts!

Part 1: Dan Williams:(Source: Delayed Frontier by David Leonard, p. 124, 138-146)

Dan Williams was a prospector in the late 1800s and remained in the Peace Country after the gold rush dwindled. He was known, in the parlance of the times, as "Nigger" Dan and took up residence in Fort St. John, BC circa 1870s. His reputation was varied depending on who you spoke with. It ranged from a travelling author saying he was a "pioneer, cook, trapper, vagrant, idler or squatter..." to being known for his generosity to government surveyors. He continued prospecting with partners, but also traded across the river from the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) at Fort St. John.

He was also well known for his gardening skills. In a Dominion Land Surveyor's journal that first mentioned him as well as the botanist, John Macoun, speak of his flourishing garden of vegetables and grains.
In 1873, the Hudson's Bay Company told Dan Williams that the land on which he resided was theirs and he would have to move. Dan refused and even posted a sign dividing his property to read:

A Loyal British subject
Who objects to be trodden upon
By any man except
Her Gracious Magesty Queen Victoria

The dispute grew until 1879, when Dan Williams injured horses belonging to the HBC that had wandered onto his land. He was also reported to have issued death threats against HBC employees. The two employees he had threatened, captured him and tied him up but he escaped and fled to his cabin. When they approached, he fired gun shots at them and they retreated. Dan was eventually apprehended and brought to trial at Fort Saskatchewan on July 1880. The charges involved the shots fired at the HBC horses and employees.
No Hudson's Bay Company employees were allowed on the jury due to bias. Dan did not have a lawyer, but rather his companion in prospecting and a man, "Banjo Mike" McDavidson. In his final argument, McDavidson was reported to have said regarding Dan's intent to injure the Company's employees: "...Dan Williams at a distance of one hundred yards can take the eye out of a jack-rabbit at every pop. Gentlemen, if Dan Williams had the slightest intention of hariming Mr. McKinlay, he [McKinlay] would not have been here today to tell you the amusing little story whereby he gives you credit for some sense of humor without paying much compliment for intelligence."
It was thought the jury had sympathy for Dan Williams as a David against the Goliath of the HBC and he was acquitted of all charges. Dan returned to his life in the Peace Country.
It was reported he died in the middle of February 1887 in a cabin by the Finlay River.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Dan Kelly!
For now, here are some photos of the African Night taken by Natalya Verosovaya:
The first part of the evening was delicious dinner, afterwards, Laura Gloor gave her presentation.

After the dinner and presentation by the Museum, there was a drum circle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Noted Author and Historian David Leonard coming to Peace River Museum

 We are very excited to be hosting David Leonard (photo courtesy of, who has a extensive knowledge of settlement and surveying in the Peace Country.

event begins at 1pm on Saturday, February 27th at thePeace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre (10302 99th Street).

David will be speaking specifically about surveying in the Peace River area in conjunction with our current exhibit from the Land Surveyor's Association, "Making Their Mark: The land surveyor's role in the peaceful and orderly development of Alberta"

David Leonard has authored books such as, "The Last Great West: The Agricultural Settlement of Peace River Country to 1914", "Delayed Frontier: The Peace River Country to 1909" and "The Lure of the Peace River Country, 1872-1919" (with Victoria L. Lemieux). He will be bringing a selection of his books, which will be available for purchase during the event and are also in the Museum's Gift Shop on a regular basis.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We're online!

In September 2009, the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre received a grant from the Archives Society of Alberta to help our Archives advance to a new phase. Canadian archives have a standard for describing their records known as RAD (Rules of Archival Description). As we continually striving to increase our level of service as a research facility, the move towards RAD is an important one. It gives us the ability to share our records with the rest of the country!

And as of February 1, 2010 six sets of records from our Archives are officially online with the Archives Society of Alberta's database and can be viewed at: Archives Network of Alberta!
The database contains descriptions of these six records and the Archives will continue to update new descriptions as they are completed. Let us know your impressions!
The Archives Network of Alberta is eventually uploaded to CAIN (Canadian Archival Information Network) which gives us a national presence! We are very excited to have started this new process in making our records available online.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Public Input for Updated 12 Foot Davis Grave Site Invited

The Government of Alberta, Northern Sunrise County and the Town of Peace River have partnered together to update the site around the 12 Foot Davis grave site including also the Dr. Greene Cairn and the Peace River Provincial Recreation Area. Tonight (January 27, 2010) there will be an Open House inviting the public to give their input on the proposed upgrades to the site. The Museum will also be on hand to pass along historical information about 12 Foot Davis, the grave site (see photograph below for original headstone) and of Dr. Greene as well.

The Open House will run for 4-8 pm at the Belle Petroleum Centre (
Alternatively, you can go online to The link for the 12 Foot Davis park is near the bottom. Here you can view the different concepts and a map of the sites to be upgraded. There is also a online survey form where you can give your input. The deadline for giving input is set at March 26, 2010.
EDIT (January 27): Please accept my apologies for the error in this blog. The Open House was at the Provincial Building in Peace River and not the Belle Petroleum Centre.

Digitized Newspapers Available at Peace River Archives

The Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre has recently embarked on a project to digitize its collection of Peace River Pilot, Peace River Record, Peace River Standard, Northern Gazette and Peace River Record Gazette. The project is complete and available to researchers on-site at the Archives. The digitized collection includes the Peace River Pilot from 1910, the Peace River Record from 1914-1943, the Peace River Standard from 1917-1922, the Northern Gazette from 1932-1939 and the Peace River Record Gazette from 1943-1983.

The collection has been made into OCR (optical character recognition) pdfs which allows users to do searches by keyword or by date(s). Reproductions of specific articles for private research only are available at a cost of 35c per page.

This project will be of great benefit to all researchers allowing for easier searching and also protecting the microfilmed collection from deterioration from use. For more information, please call the Peace River Museum and Archives at (780) 624-4261 or email us at

Monday, January 18, 2010

Making Their Mark

Our new travelling exhibit from the Land Surveyors Association has officially been launched! "Making Their Mark: The land surveyors role in the peaceful and orderly development of Alberta" is a wonderful exhibit which combines text, photographs and artifacts to bring to life the experiences of the early Dominion Land Surveyors all the way up to what surveying is like today. It includes a full sized tent showing the tools and supplies of an early surveyor. On display from the Museum's collection are rocks and fossils from Dr. F.H. Sutherland, an avid collector of Peace River's history.

Thank you to everyone who came out to our exhibit launch, to Ross Metcalfe for helping to host the opening event and to our local ALS members for helping to set up the display.
"Making Their Mark" will be on display until March 30, 2010