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!