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April 2016 Artifact of the MonthThe Grande Prairie Museum boasts several antique vehicles in its collection. A 1927 Ford Model “T” sits in a corner of the display gallery. If artifacts could talk, this car could tell a story.

In 1922, Alex Monkman discovered the pass through the Rockies which bears his name today. Aboriginals had used this route for centuries, but Monkman realized this could be a short cut from the Peace region to the Pacific Coast. Of course, it needed to be developed and investors needed to be sold on the idea that this pass was feasible.

The pass would create economic opportunity to the Peace region.  The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce was asked to help with finances and replied “[you] get a car though and we will then lend our support.” In 1938, Louis Stojan of Grande Prairie offered his car to go through the then roughly cut route. He converted his car into a small truck for the demanding journey.

On September 3rd, 1938, the car left Grande Prairie with Charlie and Jerry Stojan as driver and mechanic. The car reached the summit of the pass without much difficulty, but from there things turned for the worse. The radio failed to work, supplies were delayed and the boys were marooned in the mountains without food and heat. There were labour troubles and even snow. 

On November 6th, having been pulled there by a team of horses, they came to the shore of the McGregor River. They were a day late and missed the boat that was to take them to their final destination. However, the car was only 40 miles from its goal and had crossed the summit so, in many circles, the experiment was seen as a success.

Today this pass is a busy thoroughfare for commerce and tourism and this car was the first one to go through it.

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Last updated: 4/18/2016 9:48:46 AM