The South Peace Regional Archives is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our founding Executive Director and dear friend, Mary Nutting. Mary passed away on Monday, April 20, 2020 after a two year battle with breast cancer.
Mary discovered her passion for history after spending a year in England and subsequently discovering the rich history of our local region. After several years of volunteering at the Grande Prairie Museum, Mary completed an initial survey to identify the locations of archival records of the South Peace. In 2000, she became the founding Executive Director of the South Peace Regional Archives, where she worked for the next seventeen years.
One of Mary’s great passions was connecting people to their history. She enjoyed exploring the family collections and helping people in their “treasure hunts” through the Archives. Mary once shared this particularly memorable encounter:
“Not long after the Archives opened in 2000, I received a request to view a particular diary. The visitor was the grand-daughter of the author and had never seen the diary in question. She smiled at me as I handed her the file, but then an amazing thing happened. As her hand touched the cover of the diary, the tears began to stream down her face. She was not just reading about an historical event, but touching her grand-mother in this document that had been so personal to her at a memorable and difficult time. It surprised us both, I think.”
Among Mary’s proudest achievements was authoring and contributing to numerous historical publications, including Olwen’s Scrapbook: A Journey to the Peace Country in 1933 and A Grande Education: 100 Schools in the County of Grande Prairie,1910-1960. Her contributions to preserving local history were recognized by numerous awards through the years. Regarding her work in the Archives, Mary once said:
“The South Peace Regional Archives are all about time. The time that has passed, the time that keeps on passing, but also the time that is given to all of us to create a future for that past time.”
Mary’s time with the Archives created a legacy that will endure for generations. Her tireless work to preserve our region’s history profoundly impacted our organization, and so many others. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her and her impact will be felt by countless others.
Mary’s full obituary is available from Oliver’s Funeral Home.
Photograph courtesy of Fran Rodgers Photography