The President's Cubbyhole (1) - by Bev Tucker
This will be my final report to the President's Cubbyhole as I have stepped down and you will have a new President to guide you.
The last couple of meetings for the Branch have been interesting & fun. The January meeting was a presentation by Sean Irwin on "Genetics & Genealogy" letting us know how & why we have some of the traits passed down to us from our parents.
The February meeting was a Celebration of our 20th Anniversary. During our general meeting we had an election of our new executive committee. Your new President will be Allen Meyer; Vice-President - Catherine Ledger; Secretary - vacant; Treasurer - Dorothy McDonald. We will be requiring a volunteer to fill in the secretary position. We have also had a couple of our committee chairpersons step down, and we will be requiring volunteers to fill these positions. They are the Cemetery Coordinator and the Publicity Coordinator. Anyone who is interested in these positions please contact someone on the executive as we would like to have these positions filled as soon as possible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone on the executive who have been so supportive, as no one can do this job on their own - it is definitely a group effort.
The remainder of the February meeting was committed to celebrating our 20th Anniversary along with a beautiful cake that had a copy of our new Logo on it for which we are awaiting approval. We had a very special guest join us for this celebration and that was Margo MOFFAT, our very own AGS President. Margo has her own special way of entertaining her audience. Thank you, Margo, for coming to the Branch. We presented our copy of "Dates Gone By" to her for the AGS Library. We presented certificates to a number of long service members as well as five certificates that went out to our special Charter Members who have provided so much to the group over the past 20 years. They are Paulette Hrychiw, Marie Matkin, Merna Nelson, Carol Ann Thomson, and Laura Turnbull. Next on the agenda was a nostalgic look back on the group presented by Paulette Hrychiw on some of the "most memorable" incidents and tours that the group has done. Margo Moffat presented the AGS Presidentís Award to the Branch and it was accepted by the Charter Members. Harry Lehners gave a talk on model ship building and some of the history behind them. To close the evening out Debby Was presented a fun filled "20 Years, 20 Questions or What Do You Know About Us?" that was enjoyed by all.
We still have some copies of "Dates Gone By" for sale.
Fran Moore has prepared a history of the Branch that has been forwarded to AGS for the 25th anniversary book being compiled.
Our next monthly meeting will be held March 17th - "Being There: Research in Ontario & Quebec" presented by Genevieve & Frank Shultz and Barb & Don Moreau.
Remember the 25th Anniversary Conference will be held in Edmonton on April 17th and 18th.
Genies in the Library is still an on going project. If you can help out or need help, stop in on Wednesday evenings or Friday afternoons.
Our fund-raisers - the chocolate sales and the quilt raffle
are moving right along. Remember to pick up your raffle
tickets (contact one of the executive committee). The draw
date will be at our meeting in June 1998. The next major
project on the agenda will be the Family History Fair that is
being organized for May 1998.
Greetings to all branch members. I've enjoyed being your Vice President this past year, and look forward to my new role as President. Bev Tucker has been very helpful, and I know she will continue to be valuable in her new position as Past President. I know it will be a pleasure to work with the other members of the executive as it has been in the past. This is a great crew!
I like to think of our branch (or any organization) as a ship - it all moves in the same direction in an organized fashion, and carries information from one place in time to another. This is an important journey, as Margo Moffat reminded us of the critical importance that genealogy plays, not just within our own families, but also on a national scale. We carry forward the names, history, and legacy of our ancestors; and when we're docked in port for monthly meetings we have a little fun (not THAT kind of fun). For this and other reasons I'm glad that Harry Lehners brought his model ships to our anniversary meeting, as well as on a previous occasion. There's much to be said about a finely crafted vessel.
Thanks to all of the men and women who make this branch possible, and especially those ladies who dedicate so much of their time so that we can sail smoothly. Anchors away!
Information on This Issue:
As the Grande Prairie & District Branch celebrated its 20th Anniversary on February 17, 1998, this issue is predominantly devoted to those celebrations - history, reminiscences, and fun. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
You will notice a new image at the beginning of this page. This is the finalized drawing of the Branch Logo which has been in development since last fall.
The Logo is designed by Al Meyer and had to go through Grande Prairie City Council for approval of the use of the swan image.
All programs are preceded by a short business meeting.
* Wed: 7:00 - 9:00 pm
* Fri: 1:00 - 3:00 pm
At other times, please ask the staff at the Grande Prairie Public Library for contact information.
AGS President's Award
Margo Moffat presented the AGS President's Award to the Grande Prairie Branch during our 20th anniversary meeting. The inscription reads: "In appreciation for 20 years of outstanding volunteer service in the promotion of family history and genealogy, 1978-1998".
Branch charter members Paulette Hrychiw, Marie Matkin and Laura Turnbull accepted the award from Margo. Thanks Margo.
20th Anniversary Special Awards
Present on February 20th - Paulette Hrychiw (charter member), Joan Bowman (17 years), Marie Matkin (charter member), Gwen Turner (19 years), Leita Askew (15 years), Laura Turnbull (charter member).
Missing: Merna Nelson (charter member), Carol Thomson (charter member), Marjorie & Jacques Monlezun (18 years), Allan & Elsie Lock (18 years), Fran Moore (16 years), Nora Hassall (16 years), Sharon Schneider (15 years), Beverly Cunningham (15 years)
History of Our Branch by Fran Moore
On this the 25th Anniversary of the Alberta Genealogical Society there is another special milestone, the 20th Anniversary of the Grande Prairie & District Branch.
This 20th Anniversary is being celebrated at our regular meeting, February, 1998, with special presentations and activities. Former members are being invited to attend and the Charter Members to 15-year-members, who are still members, will be recognized for their dedication.
The Birth of a Branch
The conception was on November 24, 1977 with an information meeting at Grande Prairie Regional College and this was followed by an organization meeting on December 3rd when an interim executive committee was chosen. Those involved were: Carol Thomson, President; Jim Mason, Vice President; Charlotte Jones, Secretary; and Marie Matkin, Treasurer and their purpose was to organize the group into a branch of the AGS.
The birth followed in February, 1978 after a letter of intent sent on January 18th; election of permanent executive on February 7th; first meeting held on February 22nd; and Charter Night on February 28th with 33 members present.
The first executive were: Carol Thomson, President; Jim Mason, Vice President; Laura Turnbull, Secretary; Merna Nelson, Treasurer; and Paulette Hrychiw, Membership Secretary. (Four of the five are still members of our society.)
Membership Through the Years
Membership in the Grande Prairie Branch, AGS has been fairly constant over the years, with from 35 to 55 members yearly. We have had over 250 members over the years and the 1998 membership will be over 55.
Some would join and stay only a few years, while others have been constant from the start. Current members who were Charter Members are: Laura Turnbull, Carol Thomson, Marie Matkin, Merna Nelson, and Paulette Hrychiw. Current members who have 19 to 15 years are: Gwen Turner, Marjorie & Jacques Monlezun, Allen & Elsie Lock, Joan Bowman, Fran Moore, Nora Hassall, Leita Askew, Sharon Schneider and Bev Cunningham.
One of the keys to getting new members each year were the genealogical courses put on by such volunteers as Laura Turnbull. Then some of the course participants would join and be active in the society.
Executive of the Branch
You will note here that some of the most dedicated members have held a variety of positions over the years, others have held one position for a very long time. Thank you to all for being a part of helping the branch grow through childhood, teen years and now into adulthood.
Over the years the branch, like an orphaned child, has moved all across the city to a wide variety of facilities, 'looking for a home'. The need of a place with enough room for not only the meetings but to house a growing library was one of the reasons for so many moves, but also the need to find a place 'for the right price' was a necessity.
Here is a list of our meeting places: RecPlex Conference
Room, Board Room of Tissington Homes, Hillside School Library,
Dave Barr Arena, Volunteer Services Bureau-Financial Building,
Pioneer Lodge, Wild Rose Manor and Grande Prairie Public Library.
We also had some special meetings at various sites for special reasons: at the LDS Church to learn of their services, and at the College Library to learn the use of their library. Besides the regular meetings 'work nights' were held and these were held at members homes.
For the last nine years we have made our home at the Grande Prairie Public Library and it has been a good association. We hold our meetings either in the Isabel Campbell Room, where our library is housed, or downstairs in their meeting room. We have good cooperation between our volunteers and the library staff and in the last few years have had 'Genies' available there a few days a week to assist new genealogy buffs.
The society has grown now to a point where there is so much business that executive meetings are held, usually in private homes, to take care of the 'housekeeping' items. Doing this allows items to be brought to the meetings for approval and information and that the meetings can then include time for special speakers and presentations.
Heritage Seekers Newsletter
Our newsletter began in the spring of 1978 with the April issue when the society was only two months old. With the second issue, June 1978, it had the name "Heritage Seekers".
The very first newsletter included: a letter from the editor, a library report, a queries column, information from members, information from AGS, and a Grande Prairie Branch membership list. No moss growing under these folks feet!
The newsletter has been very interesting and entertaining for the last 20 years and has helped keep the society together and informed.
Members of our branch have made many trips around the province to the AGS annual meetings. These have been fun, informative and the bonus is getting to know 'genealogical folk' from across the province.
Some of these members have also become involved in the provincial executive. Here we will mention the many years that Laura Turnbull has served, including being AGS President in 1983 and 1984. Also serving were Carol Thomson as Membership Secretary and Pat Cooke as Treasurer.
Congratulations to our mother society, the AGS, on their 25th Anniversary.
Members of the branch have recorded a good number of cemeteries in the Peace, from Valleyview in the east to Beaverlodge in the west. Many hours have been spent at the cemeteries, reading and recording stone inscriptions and then many, many more to put it together with the written records and to put it on computer and have them published.
Thanks to all who helped with the cemetery projects.
Members attended out-of-town field trips:
Happenings: Displays, Fund Raising, Workshops and Promotions
Each year members work at setting up display booths at community functions. One that was a regular was at 'Leisure Opportunities' gatherings, and another was the 'Spring Fling' in May, 1990.
Workshops have been a constant: in cooperation with the LDS Church, at the library, at schools.
Our Branch Library is now large, and has grown with the help of grants and fund raising over recent years through A.H.R.F. We also have the 1891 and 1901 Census Records available.
Our branch hosted the AGS Annual Conference in April, 1982. Thanks to Laura Turnbull for being the conference chair.
Our fundraising has included some interesting activities over the years: 'Flea Market', 'Silent Book Auction', serving at a tea in 1985, and more recently bake sales, garage sales and this year a quilt raffle and chocolate sales.
Over the years we have had many, many very interesting speakers. Some topics keep coming back for the benefit of new members and we always learn a little something new. The following are a number of subjects (some speakers):
Branch All Grown Up
As you can see through the lists of members, meetings and activities the Grande Prairie Branch has had some growing pains. Some of these growing pains were our lack of finances and having no home of our own.
Our membership has always been solid, with charter members that have led the way over the whole 20 years. The newsletter, the meetings, the genies, the workshops, the fund raising all are hard work, but the members work together, enjoy the friendships made and at the same time learn to research their family tree.
The society today is thriving and vibrant. From that tiny baby of 20 years ago we have grown and grown, 'we're all grown up'!
Reminiscences of Our 20 Years - Paulette Hrychiw (as presented at the Branch meeting on February 17, 1998)
In sitting down to try and write up a reminiscence of our groupís activities over the past 20 years, I found out my memory is not very specific. Even going through my copies of Heritage Seekers, our Branch History Book, and a beautifully written "History of Our Branch" by Fran Moore, my memory was still not very helpful.
I found that my memories are more a general collection of times shared with friends who have a common interest in an intriguing hobby. There is the excitement of being able to share our finds with someone who understands the thrills of finding an ancestor you have spent months or even years hunting for.
Other memories are of trips to conferences: one in particular was May, 1979 when a group of us went to Calgary where the conference was held at the Glenbow Archives. I'm not even sure who all were there - Carol Thomson, Merna Nelson, Gwen Turner and myself and others I'm sure. But my outstanding memory of that trip was a visit to the Calgary Tower. It was after supper and it was dark and the wind was blowing quite hard. We took the elevator ride up to the top and the wind was just howling in the shaft. When we came out of the elevator, I noticed in the gift shop there were hanging ornaments swaying with the movement of the tower. On looking down at the street below first you could see it and then you couldn't. A couple of our group stayed in the center, sure that if they moved to the edge of the tower it would collapse. I did not linger long at the edge either and was quite relieved to go back to the ground level.
On the way to a conference at Lethbridge, we spent the night in a motel in Red Deer. It had been a long drive and we were tired. But for some reason the room was stifling hot, so we slept with the door open a bit and a chair propped under the handle so if anyone tried to come in the noise would wake us up. For extra insurance, I was delegated to sleep nearest the door in hopes my size would discourage any intruders.
On this trip we also discovered several of us snored, at least according to Heather, who would remind the offender if she lapsed into this unladylike habit. Needless to say not much sleep was acquired by anyone.
The conference in April, 1991 to Fort McMurray was also a learning experience. Our ride there was a real pleasure, a beautiful sunny day, and uneventful. Everyone was sharing their research stories. I was driving my new van. Laura, Heather and Debbie were with me and Fran and Merna were in another vehicle. On reaching Fort McMurray, finding our hotel, and getting settled in, all went well. Then for some reason, several people seemed to require a visit to the local ALCB store to purchase their favorite "treats". I thought these things were available at the hotel! Anyway we had a great time. On the road home, our tired but contented little group visited, some slept, it was an overcast day. We exchanged drivers every once in awhile. Then all of a sudden, we saw a sign that told us we were heading for Edmonton! Somewhere along the way, we weary travelers had missed the turn. We scrambled to figure out where we were and headed across country to hook up to the road we needed. I believe it had taken us out of our way a couple of hours.
Another favorite sharing time for several of us are gatherings at Tim Horton's coffee shop after meetings. It is amazing how much of our groups brainstorming is done at Tims', conscription to unfilled positions has been another fine art practiced during these times.
Lots of our group's efforts are carried on by dedicated members on their own time, usually at home. Examples of this are the work of our editor Joan Bowman, and Laura Turnbull who helps with typing and also keeping track of our memberships. Also the obituary collecting project which in the past year has been taken over by Heather Gass and Alfred & Gwen Richards. This is a very time consuming effort which has been going on since our group started. Cemetery recording is another project in which Gwen Turner and Tracy Kirouac have spent many hours on their own compiling information gathered in cemeteries by recording groups.
A group effort which I enjoyed was when we had access to the cemetery records at City Hall. This project entailed many long hours of work right at City Hall through the summer and fall of 1996. Tracy, Laura, Dorothy, Evelyn, Gwen and I were some of the extractors. If I missed anyone, please accept my apologies.
As you hear, most of my memories have to do with the fellowship shared with our group and just the fun of being with good friends who have a common interest in an intriguing hobby.
Query: Christiania (Long) Thompson
From: Ann R. Beutler, 4439 North Meadow, Waterford,
Reply: Joan Bowman, AGS #1108
We originally heard from Ann Beutler in 1995 when she was looking for information on her grandparents James W. Long and Eva May Andres Long who had lived in the Whitelaw, Alberta area. (See the query and reply in the Sept. 1995 issue of "Heritage Seekers"). And in 1996 we heard from Ann again when she told us of all her successes in her research. This we published in the Sept. 1996 "Heritage Seekers".
On Feb. 6, 1998, Ann once again wrote to us for help. She is currently looking for descendants of Christiania (Long) Thompson, a sister to her grandfather James Long. As per an obituary sent to Ann from her cousin, Beverly Wolford of Kamloops, B.C., "Christiania Thompson died (ca 1942) at age 89 at her residence - 1113 Fifteen St. W., Calgary, Alberta; born 1853 in Haldimand County, Ontario and married John Thompson at Jarvis, Ontario in 1870. Christiania came to the Springbank district about 1897 and lived in a residence for teachers of the district. Survived by a son Arthur W. of Calgary. Funeral services by Leyden's Chapel, internment at Burnsland Cemetery, Alberta".
Ann would like to make contact with descendants of Christiania (Long) Thompson or descendants of Christiania's son Arthur W. Can anyone help?
As I recently had the good fortune of getting results from a query I sent to the Alberta Family Histories Society in Calgary, with their Research Correspondent Myrna Waldroff replying, I suggested to Ann in a recent letter that she too write the Alberta Family Histories Society for help.
From: Faye Weber, 2191 Orient Park Drive, Gloucester,
Ont. K1V 4V9 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reply: Joan Bowman, AGS #1108
In June 1997, I sent Faye the Homestead Records of her Great Uncle Samuel Jackson Steele (see the Steele query in June 1997 issue of "Heritage Seekers") and in Sept. 1997, I sent Faye the info of a court hearing whereby Samuel Jackson Steele was accused of shooting Axel Olson.
In a January 1998 letter from Faye, she wrote:
"I would like to thank researcher Joan Bowman for her help in finding the newspaper articles, date June & August 1905, concerning my great uncle Samuel Jackson Steele, Alias "Dirty Dick". We know from the articles that he homesteaded near Lake Saskatoon. In all of his correspondence with his brothers, he talked of farming in the Pouce Coupe area of B.C. I am still at a loss to know why he referred to homesteading in B.C. If there is anyone in the area who can recall my great uncle, I would really like to hear from them. There are still many areas of his life that are a mystery to me. I have not been able to establish when he arrived in the area to homestead. His odd behaviour can be attributed to the fact that he was diagnosed as being paranoid schizophrenic in 1936 and spent the last ten years of his life at the Riverview Mental Hospital in Essondale, B.C."
I have since written to Faye and suggested she write to the Dawson Creek Genealogical Society, c/o Marjorie & Jacques Monlezun. 11108 - 13A St., Dawson Creek, B.C., V1G 3X5. Hopefully they can offer her some help as the only local history book in the Grande Prairie Public Library that has any info on Pouce Coupe is "Homesteaders Heritage", and it only contains a small section on "West Pouce Coupe" and no mention of the name Steele.
As for finding someone in the area who knew Samuel Jackson Steele, I know of no one and have also checked with our member Nora (Sherk) Hassall who was raised in the Beaverlodge area and had relatives in the surrounding area. Anyone who would be able to offer any info would be very elderly and we know of no one who is left in the area who could offer any information.
20 Years, 20 Questions or What Do You Know About Us? - Debby Was, AGS #2650
(Answers on next page)
1) When & where was the Grande Prairie & District Branch,
2) Who was the first president?
3) Name the charter members present tonight.
4) Name our favorite genealogy "teacher".
5) Who has the library honored for making a major contribution to the preservation of local history in Grande Prairie?
6) Find two people at this meeting who are researching in the same Canadian province.
7) Name the person who is researching their ancestry in the most unusual place and name the place.
8) When was the annual AGS conference held in Grande Prairie?
9) Name two members whose research have shown that they could be related.
10) What is the name of the branch newsletter?
11) Name the member who informs the community about our meetings & activities.
12) Name at least two places where our members like to "hangout"?
13) Name another local research repository other than the Grande Prairie Public Library .
14) Who is our AGS president and what is her country of birth?
15) Find 2 members who are researching in each of the following areas:
a) United Kingdom
b) United States
d) Germans from Russia
16) Name two major branch projects.
17) Who gave a major donation to our branch library in 1996?
18) Name an AGS president who has given a presentation to our branch.
19) Who phones members to remind them of the meetings?
20) Who instigated the "Genies in the Library" program?
Bonus question: What is the most important research tool in the Grande Prairie Public Library?
Answers to "20 Years, 20 Questions"
1) Feb 22, 1978, Recplex Conference Rm.
2) Carol Thomson
3) Laura Turnbull, Paulette Hrychiw, & Marie Matkin
4) Laura Turnbull
5) Isabel Campbell
6) Many answers
7) Paulette Hrychiw in Madagasca and Kuala Lampur; and any other answers.
8) April 2 & 3, 1982
9) Bev Tucker & Don Moreau; Dorothy McDonald & Paulette Hrychiw; Joan Bowman & Gwen Turner
10) Heritage Seekers
11) Barb Moreau, Publicity chairperson
12) LDS Library; Grande Prairie Public Library; Donnelly Library; Paulette's house; Tim Hortons
13) GP Museum; LDS Library; GP Regional College library plus others?
14) Margo Moffat from Scotland
15) Many answers
16) 1901 census; Cemetery Index; Obituary Files; Newsletter; Branch Library
17) Paul Gibson
18) 1983-85 - Laura Turnbull; 1985 - Wilf Allan; 1993 - Tom Trace; 1998 - Margo Moffat
19) Nancy Timanson & Evelyn Stark
20) Barb Moreau
Bonus: Card Catalogue
Libraries in the Grande Prairie
Grande Prairie Public Library
(Where your Grande Prairie & District Branch Library is located)
9910-99 Ave, Grande Prairie
Tues. - Thurs. - 10 am to 9 pm
Fri & Sat. - 10 am to 6 pm
Sunday - 1 pm to 5 pm
Family History Centre, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
11212-102 St., Grande Prairie
Tuesday: 10 am - 4 pm & 6 - 9 pm
Wednesday: 1 pm - 4 pm & 6 - 9 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 3 pm
Grande Prairie Regional College
10726-106 Ave, Grande Prairie
Mon - Thur - 7:45 am - 10 pm
Fri - 7:45 - 4:30 pm
Sat - 10 am - 4:30 pm
Sun - 1 pm - 9 pm
Dates Gone By ...
The old Grande Prairie newspapers are located on microfilm in the Grande Prairie Public Library. The newspapers and films begin in 1913.
Since June, 1983, Joan Bowman's ongoing contribution to "Heritage Seekers" has been to provide extracts of the births, marriages and deaths as found in these old newspapers
These extracts are now available in a published and indexed book which contains the extracts from:
a) Grande Prairie "Frontier Signal", published September
1914 to August 1916, and
b) Grande Prairie "Herald", published March, 1913 to December, 1920.
Write to the Branch for an order form. Cost is $12.00 plus $1.75 for postage & handling. We look forward to sending this excellent work to as many as possible.
Heritage Seekers is published by:
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May 31, 1998