|Repository:||South Peace Regional Archives|
|Title:||Grande Prairie Leisure Centre Photograph Collection|
|Date:||1976 – 1992 (date of creation)|
|Physical description:||169 photographs
26 negative slides
|Dates of creation, revision and deletion:|
Administrative history / Biographical sketch
In 1909, Edmontonian W.A. Rae made a visit to the “grande prairie” in the Peace River Country and was impressed by the agricultural and resource potential of the area. A site on the central south of the prairie, with timber to the south and good prairie land to the north, close to the waterways of Bear Creek and Wapiti River and marked with the survey stakes of the Canadian Northern railway appealed to him. He returned to Edmonton and formed the Argonaut Company which eventually purchased 80 acres beside the proposed railway and established the townsite of “Grande Prairie City.”
By 1911, there was a small community at Grande Prairie, with a post office, store, bank, livery barn, two stopping places, two churches, the Royal North West Mounted Police barracks, and the Dominion Land Survey Office. By 1913, this had expanded with the addition of a school, a hospital, two new hotels, the Selkirk Trading Company and a Hudson’s Bay Store. That same year saw the first issue of the Grande Prairie Herald, and the first representative from the community sent to the Provincial Legislature.
The hamlet was incorporated in 1914, and electricity arrived in 1915, courtesy of the Joseph Voz Flour Mill. When he could not meet the demand for electrical services, the citizens of the village formed the Grande Prairie Electric Company and purchased a power plant. However, the town was yet without a railroad, and everything had to come in over the Edson or Long Trail. Finally, in 1916, the railway reached Grande Prairie, providing transportation to market for agricultural products and opening the floodgates for settlement.
Growth slowed for a few years during WWI, when the area lost many of its British-born bachelors to the war effort, but tripled in one year after the war was over. By then, many of the amenities of a modern community were available: drug store, jeweler, cigar store, bakery, hardware stores and a barber shop. In 1919 the population reached 1000, sufficient to apply for town status. About this time, Richmond Avenue was extended around the corner into “Carriage Lane”, running along the ridge of Bear Creek (now 102 Street), and fine residences were built overlooking the creek valley.
By the early 1920s, the familiar pattern of “boom and bust” was already in effect. The town was overdeveloped, with too many lots and too many developers when the recession of the early 1920s began. The town seized a large number of lots for failure to pay taxes. Some of those were redeemed from tax sale by their owners, some were sold to new owners, but many were held by the town throughout the 1920s, and gradually sold in the boom during the latter half of the decade. Although the town struggled through the years of the Great Depression to collect taxes on many properties, by the end of the decade progress had been made, as evidenced by the addition of the Library and CFGP radio.
Although far removed from the material devastation of W.W. II, Grande Prairie saw plenty of war action. Its airport was a key link on the American air route to Alaska and Russia, and as many as 500 Canadian and American Air Force personnel were stationed there. In the decade after the war, Grande Prairie experienced a modernizing boom, as did many other Canadian communities. The town was introduced to local natural gas for heating, door to door mail, traffic lights, dial telephones, and television. Once again, construction boomed and people flowed in. By 1958, the population had increased to 8,000 people and the town achieved city status. As of 2021, the City of Grande Prairie population grew to 64,141 people.
The collection was stored in Eastlink Centre prior to donation.
Scope and content
This photograph collection was produced and collected by staff of the City of Grande Prairie and primarily depicts the Grande Prairie Leisure Centre, which was in operation between 1976 to 2011.
The photographs depict staff members and people at the Leisure Centre as well as various events and activities, including; fitness and martial arts classes, dances, skating and hockey at the ice rink, triathlons, parades, art competitions and classes, Halloween parties, swimming and lessons at the pool, and youth events like Sunbusters.
A number of sporting events are also depicted including the 1986 Senior Games, the Northwest Alberta Games, the 1992 Highland Games, and basketball games including the 1989 Women’s National.
Restrictions on access
There are no restrictions on access
Conditions governing use
Use for commercial purposes requires permission from the City of Grande Prairie
No accruals are expected.