Alberta’s history

A TASTE OF CHRISTMASES PAST

Season’s Greetings! With its hustle and bustle, Christmas Day will soon be here. Before we celebrate the magic of the holiday season, let us look back at the wonder and charm of a simpler time. The extensive photo collections at the Provincial Archives of Alberta and the City of Edmonton Archives offer a unique glimpse into the celebrations of Christmases past in Alberta; the following images were selected from their holdings to create a photo montage dedicated to old-fashioned holiday memories and traditions. Enjoy!


PLUM PUDDING – A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS MUST!

Not only does the holiday season include fun outdoor activities, festive bright lights and the sweet sounds of Christmas melodies, but it is always filled with an assortment of tasty old-fashioned baked treats. Thanks to our colleagues at Rutherford House Provincial Historic Site, we are pleased to share one of Mrs. Rutherford’s classic Christmas desserts, a treasured family recipe for plum pudding passed down from her mother.

GRANDMOTHER BIRKETT’S PLUM PUDDING

Chop fine 2# suet, add #2 seeded raisins cut in half, #2 seedless raisins, ½# peel, ½ # almonds cut in half or slices 4 cups bread crumbs. Beat 8 eggs, 2 cups milk and 2 cups brown sugar together. Add sifted 2 cups of flour, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, 2tsp salt, 4 tsp baking soda. Combine with fruit. Fill oiled moulds 2/3 full. Steam 3 – 4 hours.

Sauce for Plum Pudding (Foamy)

½ cup butter

1 cup sugar

3 tbsp boiling water

1 egg

Juice of ½ lemon

1 tsp nutmeg

Cream butter and sugar, beat egg lightly add with lemon juice and nutmeg, beat until light and fluffy. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time and beat well heated over hot water (double boiler?). Serve hot on pudding.

Should any of our readers decide to take it upon themselves to try and make Grandmother Birkett’s Plum Pudding recipe, please let us know how it turns out. Comments are always appreciated; we anxiously await your review!

Traditional Christmas Plum Pudding (from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, Food Plate of Puddings – 1890s edition)

Written By: Marsha Mickalyk, Archaeological Permits and Digital Information Coordinator & Pauline Bodevin, Regulatory Approvals Coordinator, Historic Resources Management Branch.

References

HERMIS (Heritage Resources Management Information System) – https://hermis.alberta.ca/

City of Edmonton Archives – https://archivesphotos.edmonton.ca

Red Deer Industrial School Monument Unveiled

During the past three weeks the Spanish influenza has swept through this institution. I regret to report that as a result, five of our pupils are dead: Georgina House, Jane Baptiste, Sarah Soosay, David Lightning, William Cardinal…At the time the children died practically everyone was sick so that it was impossible for us to bury the dead. I thought the best thing to do was to have the undertaker from Red Deer take charge of and bury the bodies. This was done, and they now lie buried in Red Deer.”

These words, written by then-Principal Joseph F. Woodsworth to the department of Indian Affairs, now also appear in the Red Deer City Cemetery, on a monument commemorating the lives of four of the five young men and women who passed away on November 15 and 16, 1918, while attending Red Deer Industrial School[1]. Until now, their names and resting places within the Red Deer City Cemetery had remained largely unmarked and their stories untold. (more…)

The Hardisty Bison Pound

Between 2008 and 2014, five separate archaeological excavations took place at the Hardisty Bison Pound and its associated campsite. These two sites, located across the Battle River from the town of Hardisty, were excavated in response to developments that took place during facility expansions at the Hardisty Terminal.

Bison pounds are a form of communal hunting common on the Plains. They are characterised by a wooden corral with hides draped over the edge. Bison would have been herded into the fenced enclosure to be slaughtered for consumption by the community using the pound. The landforms surrounding the Hardisty Bison pound share distinct features that would have been essential to many communal kills. Many of these features have been introduced in past RETROactive posts, in particular Mike Donnelly and Todd Kristensen’s post on Head-Smashed-In. Most notably, the Battle River valley and the hills surrounding the Hardisty Bison Pound combined to form a funnel that would have acted to concentrate bison herds close to the current location of the terminal. With the addition of drive lanes and buffalo runners luring bison into the trap, these herds would have been driven quite easily into the pound, both to feed people living in the area as well as for production of meat and hide products to trade with people further east in what is now Manitoba and North and South Dakota.

Excavation Block from 2009 excavation at the Hardisty Bison Pound. The pound is located on the far side of the block at the toe of the small hill in the background (Photo Credit:  Matthew Moors, FMA Heritage Inc., Permit 09-020).

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Working Dogs: Domestic Canids in Indigenous Societies

Peigan women with dog travois (Photo Credit: Provincial Archives of Alberta, A5463).

Without question, dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are humankind’s oldest animal ally. By at least 20,000 years ago–but possibly many thousands more–humans began interacting with the Eurasian grey wolf (Canis lupus) in significantly different ways than they had before. It’s possible wolves began scavenging wastes at or near encampments and became accustomed to the presence of humans over time. Equally plausible are scenarios in which hunters habitually took in orphaned wolf pups to be raised by new, human families. As tame wolves interbred with other tame wolves, their species experienced genetic changes that had implications for the behaviour and appearance of their offspring. Over many more thousands of years, gone was the fearsome wolf. In its place was a friendlier, smaller creature that barked and wagged its tail, and when permitted access, could form viable offspring with wolves to create tough but tractable canid hybrids. Though the timing and location of their domestication remains shrouded in mystery, one thing is almost certain: when the first humans came to inhabit the North American continent, they had with them a very important companion – the dog. (more…)

POW and Internment Camps in Alberta: WWII

On September 1, 1939, the Second World War began and Canadians responded with more than one million of its men and women enlisting in the military. Many were sent overseas, and stories of the courageousness of Canadians on the battlefront emerged. This war is known for uniting the country and forging its own national identity, but a lesser known aspect from this period takes place at home. In a significant reaction to the war, internment camps were established and Canada detained citizens of its own country, discriminating against members of German, Japanese and Italian communities. In addition, Canada had an active part in accepting German prisoners of war who were captured in active duty. This blog post will look at the establishment of prisoner of war and internment camps in Alberta, and briefly at the people who were detained, and the life they experienced.

View of guard towers at the POW camp in Medicine Hat, c.1948 (Image courtesy of Esplanade Archives, 0590.0017).

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John Walter – One of the Makers of Edmonton

John Walter was a pioneer and one of Edmonton’s first millionaires. Born in the Orkney Isles in 1849, as a young man he was hired by the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) to build York boats at Fort Edmonton. Upon the completion of his contract, Walter struck out on his own, choosing to make his livelihood along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. Undertaking many successful business ventures, his commercial empire grew to include: lumber, carpentry, coal, real estate and transportation. Known for his enterprising spirit and generous ways, John Walter spent a lifetime devoted to both the economic and civic growth of Edmonton, laying the foundations of today’s modern city.

John Walter, 1907. Photographed by C.M. Tait. Image courtesy of City of Edmonton Archives EA-10-1682.

At the age of 21, Walter entered the service of the HBC, committing to a five-year term as a York boat builder. Sailing from Stromness, Orkney in June 1870, it took eight weeks to reach York Factory. He continued his westward journey, by York (more…)

Hunting With a View: Excavations at the Hummingbird Creek Site (FaPx-1) in Alberta’s Central Rockies

In 2009, the Archaeological Survey of Alberta discovered the Hummingbird Creek Site (FaPx-1), an archaeological site rich in stone artifacts, animal remains, and hearth features, in Alberta’s central Rockies. The site resided on a high terrace above Hummingbird Creek and the South Ram River, an ideal location for observing the valley below. Radiocarbon dates from the site’s lower levels indicated it was occupied from between 2,500 – 2,400 years ago, and upper levels dated from 1,000 – 700 years ago. This past August, Timothy Allan (MA student at the University of British Columbia), members of the Archaeological Survey of Alberta, and the Red Deer Archaeological Society returned to FaPx-1 to complete excavations at the site. The team found atlatl (or throwing spear) projectile points, hide scrapers, stone tool debris (flakes), and animal bone. (more…)