South Peace Historical Society celebrating 70 years

By Tom Summer,

Local Journalism Initiative

The South Peace Historical Society is turning 70 next month, founded on March 23, 1952, to preserve the story of the Peace River and surrounding areas.

President Lynn Washington says it’s a goal which continues to be achieved, who volunteers at the archives in the Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre.

“We’ve been involved in a lot of things over the years, especially books – The Lure of the Peace, Rolla Remembers, Peacemakers, Always a River to Cross. When the car rescue folks came this summer, I think we looked in just about every book,” said Washington of the HISTORY Channel group.

The original society was regionally focused, with Andy Davie of Dawson Creek as President and Alwin Holland of Fort St. John as Vice President.

Original directors also included Edith Kyllo in Hudson’s Hope, and Dorothy Calverley, best known for her  600 articles chronicling the Peace, better known as the Calverley Collection.

“They tried really hard to keep on, but you’ve got to remember that in 1952, travel wasn’t the easiest. And for them to get together was a real challenge,” said Washington. “By 1959, it became the South Peace, and that’s when we got registered.”

“But this is where we started, and just because Hudson’s Hope couldn’t make it, or Fort St. John, there were still lots of people, and it just kept growing.”

Kyllo would go on to be the curator for the Hudson’s Hope Museum, and co-author Peacemakers of the North Peace.

By 1965, the society had opened a new museum in Dawson Creek, in addition to a city art gallery.

“The opening of this museum and art gallery marks the end of one era and the opening of another,” former Dawson Creek Mayor Ron Witherspoon told the Peace River Block News during a ribbon-cutting ceremony the same year.

Washington says the society is grateful for the work of all the volunteers and past presidents over the years, commending the 17-year presidential run by Day Roberts and the ten year run by Walter Wright, who passed in 1980.

His named has since been enshrined in the Walter Wright Pioneer Village, which opened in 1992.

Last year, the society finished scanning all of the Peace River Block News – a monumental feat, and an important record of history from 1930 to 2006, the first newspaper in the Peace.

They’ve since moved on to scanning copies of the Dawson Creek Mirror, and continue to collect heritage materials for preservation, with volunteers donating their time every week.

Tom Summer        is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the  ALASKA HIGHWAY NEWS . The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

 

Add Your Voice

Is there more to this story? We'd like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Contribute your voice on our contribute page.