Movie Monday: Races and Pioneer Days

Image: A film still showing a Pioneer Days demonstration (SPRA 0165.09.29, Fonds 165: Roland Pivert fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Today’s Movie Monday carries forward the theme of last week’s video: rodeos and community events. This film from the Roland Pivert fonds begins with scenes of chuckwagon races, then focuses on demonstrations at a Pioneer Days event.

Many communities in the South Peace have been organizing annual Pioneer Days for the past several decades. Like rodeos, these events began as community picnics with athletics and horse races for the locals to participate in. A poster from DeBolt’s 9th Annual Pioneer Days in 1938 invited people to enjoy the horse races, basketball, athletics, and dance that were to take place.

In later years, however, Pioneer Days became a way of preserving the history of the area. In an era when machines were taking over, many were concerned that the toils of the early settlers would be forgotten. And so the focus of Pioneer Days shifted. As seen in this film taken circa 1970, the event had evolved into an opportunity to share with the community the agricultural roots of the South Peace by holding demonstrations of steam engines, threshing machines, and sawmills. Domestic activities were also exhibited in the form of crafts, quilts, baking, and preserves.

Many communities and museums still hold these events in the summer, so check your local community calendars for upcoming events!

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