Friday, April 29, 2016

Larry Loyie

Constance and Larry - Book launch at the Peace River Museum 2014

Author, philosopher, gentle Cree man

It is with sincere sadness that we convey the news of Larry Loyie’s passing April 18, 2016.  As staff of the Museum and Archives, we had the pleasure of knowing both Larry and his partner and co-author Constance through book launches of his acclaimed titles and through their visits when they travelled in this part of the northern boreal forest. Often the visits would coincide with travels to our regional schools to share Larry’s stories with the children, which was always a great pleasure of Larry’s.

Larry was born in Slave Lake and spent his childhood living a traditional Cree lifestyle with his family until he was taken to Grouard to the St. Bernard Mission residential school. Through this experience, his education was disrupted and  it was not until he was 50 years old that he returned to school to fulfill his lifelong goal to become an author – and what an expressive author he became.

Together, he and Constance published numerous books about the Aboriginal culture and heritage of northern Alberta. As an author and a speaker, he spoke gently but firmly about the impacts of the world war, the teachings of Elders, the residential school system and the importance of treating everyone with respect. Throughout his writings, his gentle nature, his humour as well as his seriousness, communicated to the reader his strong respect for his Cree culture and heritage and his open mind and optimism for tomorrow.

The last time we saw Larry and Constance was at Donnelly, Alberta at the Société  historique et généalogique de Smoky River where they had come to thank the volunteers at the centre for their help with researching their book Residential Schools - ever acknowledging people who supported them. I believe Larry Loyie’s legacy will be in having sown seeds for a kinder and gentler place for us all to live in.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Peace River Warehouse District 100th Year

It seemed fitting to take a stroll throughout the Warehouse District of Peace River, which served so many communities – people – in the Peace Country North during the Warehouse District’s and Jane Jacobs’ 100th birthday. Staff of your Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre, along with members of the Heritage Places Committee, hosted the stroll on a beautiful, sunny Sunday, April 10.

The stroll began with a gathering at Athabasca Hall (built 1936) and a tour, by Lorne Mann, owner of the former Crown Building, under his renovation direction. Following a tour of the building by its passionate renovating owner, the group continued on its way – not exactly following in Jane Jacobs’ footsteps, but nevertheless, observing the essence of her encouragement – to look and listen – observe, absorb, appreciate our surroundings – value them – be willing to change when community and people will benefit, but willing to not, when the sense of community would diminish.

Yes, she advocated for not only smelling the roses, but, also taking time to see the roses’ surroundings – environment – the bees – other insects – the effect of the wind stirring the petals – their affect on you – the community – and so much more.

  • PRMA1980.1150.001 – The Warehouse District on east side of Peace River showing the Midland & Pacific Elevator on the left and the S. S. Athabasca on dry dock on the right of the photo. The exact year unknown, but believed to be prior to 1919.

 Jane is quoted: No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk. That’s what the April 10 stroll/walk/conversation/sharing memories/gathering did.

 She refers to cities, but we in rural communities, would do well to take note. Her credentials are immense – one only needs to research them to appreciate this multi-awarded American-born Canadian resident woman’s accomplishments pertaining to community – people comprising that community – people and their need to be part of a viable, comfortable place to live for generations.

“Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance – not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any one place is replete with new improvisation.” – Jane Jacobs, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities"

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Its Wildlife Week! And Canada Celebrates an Important Anniversary!!

Canada is celebrating a very important centenary this week! The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Migratory Birds Convention between Canada and the United States. This treaty embraces the important need to conserve our wildlife, as well as their habitats, and focuses on all of the wonderfully winged birds (that is, if it does not include insects and bats who also have wings) that inhabit our skies. And it just so happens that the week of April 10th is Wildlife Week!

This conservation work began with John Thomas Miner, also known as Jack Miner, or the ‘Father of North American Conservationism.’ Growing up in Ontario, Jack’s careful observation of the migratory bird path began when he noticed that Canada geese were stopping on ponds on his property in the spring on their way northward. From this, Miner had seven clipped, tame Canada geese and created ponds on his property in 1904 to attract more wild species of birds. By 1913, his entire property became a bird sanctuary for all creatures with wings. Three years later he pioneered the banding (the process of attaching a small metal or plastic band around a bird's leg in order to identify individual birds from the band's unique number) of migrating waterfowl. The data that was collected through this was instrumental in the establishment of the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 between the United States of America and Canada as no government banding programs had been in existence until that time.

Coming forward to today, gathering baseline data in aid of further understanding breeding birds is the mandate of the northern Alberta Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation (BCBC). The BCBC is the only educational and research facility in the world strategically located to study boreal birds on their breeding grounds. Located in Lesser Slave Lake, the BCBC also contributes to the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory.  This project monitors landbird migrations using daily mistnetting (capturing birds in nets using a procedure developed at the Manomet Bird Observatory), visible migration counts (recording every bird species observed within a defined space at set intervals) and casual observance.

The Peace River is an important stopping area
for many migratory birds in the boreal.

PRMA. 2008.082.013
Yet another organization in our area that is not only concerned with birds, but all wildlife in our boreal forest is the internationally acclaimed project called EMEND (Ecosystem Management Emulating Natural Disturbance). EMEND is a forest research centre located north of Dixonville dedicated to improving our understanding of how the western boreal forest ecosystem responds to disturbances, natural ones (such as fire or pest infestation) and human ones (such as harvesting).

Wildlife Week is celebrated each year around April 10th, Jack Miner’s birthday, to honour Jack Miner and to celebrate conservation successes as well as bringing awareness to issues still challenging the survival of our wildlife.

If you want to learn more about EMEND, the museum is hosting EMEND 101, exploring how the research gathered through EMEND impacts our environmental stewardship.  We will see you on April 14th 2016, 7pm at the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Artists of the Month:   You might already know them -

it’s those Sew ‘n Sews!

Beginning as an organization of enthusiastic Peace River quilters in 1997, the Sew ‘n Sews meet weekly at the Senior’s Drop In Centre. Since 1998, the Centre has been the place they gather to share their love of quilting, to learn from and encourage each other and to challenge each other to create special projects, such as, incorporating a photograph into their quilting, creating prayer flags, supporting the Salvation Army Christmas campaign with Bags For Teens or the Slave Lake Relief Quilts of 2012 and they have built and donated over 300 quilts to the local Women’s Shelter. It seems for this altruistic group of artists, that giving your creations away to an appreciative person is often the motivation behind the hours of design and sewing.

The camaraderie of this group of 15 women has taken them on trips together to shop for enticing folds of fabric to the 2015 Quilt Canada show in Lethbridge, Alberta.  

Lois Stranaghan, long time volunteer at the Museum and at the Senior’s Centre, says she sees the quilters at the Centre every week and they seem always to be having a great time together. If you would like to join the Sew ‘n Sews just reach Shonna at 780-624-4125. In the meantime, drop by to view the April Art Wall, sponsored by the Peace of Art club, which currently showcases quilted works from this group of creative and industrious quilters.


Terry Alm, Ann Rosin,Shonna Lagace, Lois Laurin  and Teresa Cambridge

Teresa and Ann enjoying watching the curation of the Sew 'n Sews exhibit