Stampeders President Tom Brook holding the Grey Cup with Woody Strode in Toronto, November, 1948. Courtesy of the Calgary Stampeder Football Club.

In conjunction with Black History Month, RETROactive profiles Woody Strode, a pioneering African American player with the Calgary Stampeders who went on to a remarkable career in Hollywood.

The arrival of Herb Trawick to the Montreal Alouettes in 1946 signalled the beginning of African Americans playing in the Canadian Football League (CFL), expanding the talent pool of athletes available for Canada’s professional teams. The first African Americans to play in Alberta were Charles Clay (Chuck) Anderson and Woody Strode who joined the Calgary Stampeders for the 1948 season. Although Strode only played with Calgary for two seasons, he made a lasting contribution to the lore of Grey Cup festivities that are now considered to be Canada’s premier sporting event.

Woodrow Wilson Woolwine Strode, whose ancestors had intermarried with Creek (Muscogee), Cherokee and Blackfoot Native Americans, was born 25 July 1914 in Los Angeles. He studied at the University of California, Los Angeles where he had a stellar record as a decathlete and football player. Part time jobs with Hollywood film studios led to several uncredited film appearances and foreshadowed his future career. During the Second World War, Strode served with the Fourth Air Read more

Passchendaele Remembered

During November 2017, Canada commemorates the centennial anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres. It was the third and last major battle victory during 1917, after Vimy Ridge and Hill 70, for the combined Canadian Divisions fighting together as a Corps.

The Battle saw German and Allied armies clash in the area of the Belgian city of Ypres. Fought from 31 July through 10 November, 1917, the battle is estimated to have resulted in over half a million casualties. Canada alone suffered over 4,000 dead and almost 12,000 wounded. The carnage in the infamous mud of the battlefield became synonymous with the senseless and massive losses suffered by troops during the Great War. Singular feats of sacrifice and valour during the course of the battle saw nine Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honor conferred within the British Empire. Read more

Sugar Beets and Buddha in Raymond, Alberta: Celebrating Asian Heritage Month

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month has been celebrated since 1978 in the United States, coinciding with the first arrival of Japanese immigrants in 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, in part through the contribution of Chinese labourers. In Canada, Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated since the 1990s and in 2002 the Government of Canada signed an official declaration designating May as Asian Heritage Month, a time to reflect on the legacy of Canadians of Asian heritage and to celebrate their contributions to the fabric of Canadian society.

In keeping with the spirit of Asian Heritage Month, RETROactive would like to share with its readers, the history of the Raymond Buddhist Church, designated a Provincial Historic Resource by the Province of Alberta in 1984. The information is taken from the Alberta Register of Historic Places and can be accessed in its entirety at:


The Raymond Buddhist Church is a two-storey building with a rectangular plan and a steeply-pitched gable roof completed Read more

Obadiah Place, Amber Valley: Commemorating African American Settlement in Alberta

Willis and Jeanie Bowen at Amber Valley, courtesy of the Black Settlers of Alberta and Saskatchewan Historical Society.
Willis and Jeanie Bowen at Amber Valley, courtesy of the Black Settlers of Alberta and Saskatchewan Historical Society.

In January of 2017 the Government of Alberta officially proclaimed February as Black History Month, recognizing the contributions people of African and Caribbean descent have made to the province. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Black History Month in Canada, a time to celebrate the history and achievements of black Canadians within Canada.

In the spirit of that announcement, RETROactive would like to feature one of Alberta’s historic places, which commemorates African American settlement. The Obadiah Place at Amber Valley was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource in 1990. The following information is adapted from the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

In 1911, a party of black Americans made their way from Oklahoma to seek a new life on lands north of Edmonton. Recent statehood for Oklahoma had brought with it restrictive ‘Jim Crow’ laws and many black Read more

Christmas at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village 2017

The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is a major open-air museum with the network of provincial historic sites and museums operated by Alberta Culture and Tourism. Located 50 km east of Edmonton, the museum preserves more than 35 historic structures and interprets the lives of Ukrainian settlers in east central Alberta between the years of 1892 and 1930. Based on extensive contextual and site specific research, the museum is an important steward of the intangible cultural heritage of Alberta’s Ukrainian settlers. Read more

A Portrait of Service and Sacrifice: Nursing Sister Lieutenant Nora Hendry Peters 1910-1944

Shortly before his death in April of 1915 while serving with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, English poet Rupert Brooke penned the now famous lines of The Soldier. He surmised that should he die during the course of the war, there would be some corner of a foreign field That is for ever England”. In a similar vein, one might consider the ultimate sacrifices paid by Albertans during two World Wars and their final resting places as corners of foreign fields that are for ever Alberta.

During Canada’s two World Wars approximately 127,000 Albertans served in the country’s armed forces, of Read more

Gathering at Victoria Settlement

Students at Victoria School, circa 1910: Left to right Frank Whitford, Fred Kuzemsky, unidentified, Wasyl Kotyk, Wayne Kozub or Esepenko, teacher Mr. Rowbottom, Demetrius Ponich, Metro Starchuk, David Thompson, Elena Brucenorsky, Wasyl Brucenorsky [in doorway] and two unidentified at far right (Photo: Rev. D.M. Ponich Collection, Alberta Culture and Tourism).
Students at Victoria School, circa 1910: Left to right Frank Whitford, Fred Kuzemsky, unidentified, Wasyl Kotyk, Wayne Kozub or Esopenko, teacher Mr. Rowbottom, Demetrius Ponich, Metro Starchuk, David Thompson, Elena Brusanowsky, Wasyl Brusanowsky [in doorway] and three unidentified at far right (Photo: Rev. D.M. Ponich Collection, Alberta Culture and Tourism).
Descendants of settlers from Alberta’s historic Victoria Settlement district, and enthusiasts of Alberta’s history generally, are invited to take part in a special gathering and genealogical symposium on the 6th of August 2016 at the Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site.

The agenda for the day’s events are listed below. An area map illustrating the location of Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site can be found below or at the site’s website: http://www.history.alberta.ca/victoria/location/location.aspx

Gathering at Victoria Settlement

Saturday, August 6, 2016

9:00-9:30                     Set up of tents, tables, registration, displays from participants.

9:30-10:00                   Registration – meet and greet.

10:00-10:30                 Ross Stromberg: Program Coordinator, Alberta Culture and Tourism.

10:30-10:45                 Elaine Breadon Peiche: Victoria Home Guard Society.

10:45-11:45                 Peter Melnycky: Historian, researcher, author of 

                                      ‘A Veritable Canaan – Alberta’s Victoria Settlement.’

11:45-12:30                 Linda Collier: President of Historical Society of Alberta; historian and

                                      great-granddaughter of Rev. George McDougall.

12:30-1:00                   Enjoy your picnic lunch and mingle!

1:00-1:45                     Graham Dalziel: Member of Smoky Lake Heritage Board; owner of

                                      historic Riverlot #3 – with a suitcase full of found treasures!

1:45-2:30                     Donna Shanks and John Althouse: Donna is President of Edmonton

                                      branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society. John is a member of E.A.G.S

                                      and Editor of Clandigger.

3:00-3:30                     Steven Bentley: Historian and genealogist with some ‘Whitford’ stories.

3:30-4:00                     Group photo and closing.

4:00                              Carpool to cemetery for those who wish to explore it.

5:00                              Victoria Settlement Historic Site closes.

BONUS: There will be THREE genealogical consultants on site to help with family histories! Steven Bentley plus Bill and Sandy Macdonald.

Please bring your picnic lunch!  AND, your family history, stories, research to share.

Everyone is responsible for their own entrance fee to V.S. ($5.00 per person).

Check the Victoria Settlement website and Plan Your Visit:


If you plan to join us, a quick email to victoriasettlementgathering@gmail.com would help us with our planning.