Grande Prairie was founded in the early 1900s and it did not take long for a progressive community to create its rich history. Historical interpretive plaques, highlighting historical buildings and people from our past, can be found throughout the city.
Reverend Forbes Homestead and Pioneer Hospital
10424 96 Street
Behind the QEII Hospital
Among the first settlers on the Grande Prairie were the Reverend Alexander Forbes and his wide Agnes Correll Forbes. Arriving here in 1910, they quickly filed on their homestead among establishment McQueen Presbyterian Church and started the first hospital in the district. The hospital portion of this building was built in 1911, and was the domain of Mrs. Forbes, a trained nurse. The two storey manse was added in 1912.
As was the custom in those days, this house was built by the owners and their neighbours, using local materials. It is the last log building preserved on its original site in the Grande Prairie area.
The Forbes Homestead was designated a classified historic site on 12 May 1976, by the Non. Horst A. Schmidt, Minister of Culture. By this, the Government of Alberta salutes the Reverend and Mrs. Forbes, and their contribution to the people and history of Grande Prairie.
Reverend and Mrs. Forbes contributed greatly to the development of religion, education, health and culture in the City of Grande Prairie. Their home and hospital were a recognized community institution with friends and family of patients welcome to stay the night and a home cooked meal provided to travellers. Mrs. Forbes loved to entertain, serving tea in her real china. The Forbes Homestead is an elegant reminder of those intrepid pioneers who came before us.
The house and hospital were fully restored to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Forbes and was opened to the public on May 28, 2010. The Forbes Homestead is operated by the Grande Prairie Museum and is open during the summer months when guided tours, special events and public programs are featured.
Grande Prairie Museum's Heritage Village, Muskoseepi Park
South of McQueen Presbyterian Church
Entrance and Parking at 102 Avenue and 102 Street
Through his lifelong dedication to finding, testing and breeding better plants for northern latitudes, John Wallace significantly improved the lives of northern Albertans. A tireless promoter of better varieties and better horticultural techniques, John Wallace introduced hundreds of plant varieties to northern Alberta. He discovered the Saskatoon varieties, Pembina and Smoky, the latter of which occupies about 95 percent of the commercial acreage of Saskatoons in Canada. He selected, developed and named the Protem strawberry, the only recommended hardy variety of the northern half of Alberta. He was also responsible for breeding and developing the tomato variety, Early Yellow, which was the breakthrough leading to the world famous Beaverlodge sub-arctic tomatoes. In 1989, John Wallace was inducted into The Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame.
Grande Prairie Museum's Heritage Village
Entrance and parking at 102 Avenue and 102 Street
Maria and Antoni (Tony) immigrated from Poland in 1930 with 4 young children. They homesteaded northwest of Wanham and relocated to Codesa in 1936 where they farmed until 1965. Two sons were born in Canada. They retired in Grande Prairie where they lived in their home on 107 Avenue until their passing. As with all of the immigrant community, they valued strong family bonds and bonds of friendship with new neighbours and friends. Their life in Canada exemplified the lives of early settlers from Poland in the Peace River Country. This monument is dedicated in their memory.
Maria Wozniak 1903-1988
Antoni (Tony) Wozniak 1903-2002
This monument is dedicated to the early settlers of the Peace River Country who came from Poland. Most of them arrived just prior to the Great Depression of the early 1930s. They and their families endured numerous hardships in this new country including no employment, language barrier, humble dwellings, harsh winters and often long distances from schools and towns.
Each settler was entitled to file on a 1/4 section homestead for $10.00. The land was heavily wooded, requiring a full summer to clean about 1 hectare in 5 years. If enough improvements were made, the settler could apply for a title to the land. These people were hard workers and eagerly accepted the challenges they faced, along with their work ethic, the immigrants brought to Canada their traditional way of life, the celebration of Christian holidays, births and weddings. They gathered to sing and enjoy their kinship with sad memories of relatives, friends and villages left behind which most would never see again.
Faith in the Catholic Church remained central to the Polish settlers. Father Joachim Michalowski who arrived in Webster in 1937 served as parish priest for the polish community throughout the central and north peace area until 1951. A highlight each year was a pilgrimage to the Grotto in Webster. As time moves on, there are fewer original settlers each year, but there are more new faces to take up the challenge of their forefathers and to continue to maintain a strong presence of the Polish community in the Peace River Country.
For the generosity offered to them and the freedom in their new land, the Polish community is forever grateful to the people of Canada.
Grande Prairie Museum's Heritage Village, Muskoseepi Park
Entrance and Parking at 102 Avenue and 102 Street
September 23, 2001: The Museum Society of Grande Prairie and District and the Grande Prairie Museum wish to thank Tony and Frances Doll and their family for donating this building. Mr. Miller and his taxi business played an important part of Grande Prairie history and this building is a great addition to our Heritage Village
The building was built in 1916 as Prairie Electrical and Auto. From 1945-61 it served as the Miller’s Taxi office and was located on the north side of Richmond Avenue between 101 and 102 Street.
Chester Miller was born in Indiana about 1893 and was an early resident of the Grande Prairie area. In September 1914, Chester was one of the first Grande Prairians to join World War I, enlisting in the Royal North West Mounted Police, one of the routes men took to the war in Europe. He ended up serving in RNWMP detachments in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. He returned from the war in June 1919, married Delia Obenlock in 1920 and homesteaded on the land Chester filed on before the war.
As Chester didn't want to farm, the land was sold and Chester became involved in various business concerns, including wood, automobiles, and building.
In 1937, he was elected Fire Chief and worked with the fire department on the US Air Force Base at the GP Airport. He bought a 1937 Ford to get to and from work and was soon asked to transport other people on weekends for pay. This was the start of Miller's Taxi business. He later added a second car to his fleet to serve Grande Prairie with service later extended as far as Smoky River and Sturgeon Lake. The office building was purchased in 1945 and operated 24 hours a day with four drivers.
Miller's Taxi can be viewed during Grande Prairie Museum Summer Hours when the Heritage Village is open.
Montrose Cultural Centre
9839 103 Avenue
The Montrose site has a history of public institutions dating back to 1917. It was donated to the Grande Prairie School Board by Rev. Alexander and Agnes Forbes for the construction of a school. In recognition of the Forbes' generous donation the school was named "Montrose" after Mrs. Forbes' birthplace in Scotland.
The original Montrose school was built in 1917, followed by the Grande Prairie High School in 1929, and ultimately the Montrose Junior High School in 1960. The only remaining school on the site is the Grande Prairie High School which now forms the west end of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie.
In 2009, the Montrose Cultural Centre was built as a cultural focal point and includes a library, art gallery, event spaces, coffee house and meeting rooms.
The Montrose Cultural Centre and the greenway development to the South have been designed to carry on the tradition started by the Forbes family by providing a vibrant community gathering space to enjoy art, culture and education in the City of Grande Prairie.
The Montrose Site Plaque was unveiled on Thursday, August 31, 2017 to recognize the importance of the site in the early development of the City of Grande Prairie and it's long history as a place for education and community.
Today, only the High School of 1929, now the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie (pictured on the plaque), remains as a reminder of this land’s historic contribution to local education. The land originally formed part of the Rev. Forbes Homestead, a quarter section stretching from the historic property on 96 St. to the north-east corner of 100 St. and 100 Ave. The Forbes’ were among the first settlers in Grande Prairie, building the first Presbyterian Church and hospital. They showed support, kindness and care for the early residents of our community and generously gave away lots to start schools, churches and hospitals.
This site was gifted to build a public school, known as the Montrose School after his wife Agnes' birthplace in Scotland. The school opened in 1912 but by 1915 it had grown in student numbers that a new one was needed.
In those years the Montrose School handled grades 1 to 12. In 1922 an addition was added to the back; a mirror copy of the front. The original school cost only $8,000 but the addition cost was $15,000.
The second school was built on the site was the High School built in 1929 and known as Central Park High School. At the time it was built, the Montrose School was so overcrowded that its auditorium had been renovated into a classroom. Central Park High was the only High School in Grande Prairie until it was replaced in 1950, and used for overflow classes. The building then served as home to the Grande Prairie Junior College and the Music Building for Montrose Junior High (now the Centre for Creative Arts).
The final school built on the site, Montrose Junior High is possibly the best remembered today. Built in 1960-61 it saw the demolition of its predecessor (the Montrose School) in 1970.
In 1985 the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie took over the building and the Montrose Cultural Centre was built in 2009 as home to the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie with its preserved red brick facade, the Grande Prairie Public Library, Teresa Sargent Hall, meeting rooms and a coffee shop. To the south is the Mamawe Concourse. These facilities form part of a growing, vibrant, cultural hub where our community gathers to celebrate education, history, art, and culture.
Grande Prairie Museum (10329 101 Ave), south-west green space.
Mel Rodacker arrived in Grande Prairie in 1927. He was part of several important businesses in Grande Prairie, and was instrumental in establishing the Grande Prairie Pioneer Museum. He served on town council in the 1940s. He was an avid volunteer in several organizations including the Kinsmen Club, Shriners Club, Lake Sakatoon Masonic Lodge, Curling Club and the Grande Prairie Athletic Club.
Grande Prairie Museum's Heritage Village, Muskoseepi Park
Entrance and Parking at 102 Ave, & 102 St.
This plaque is one of 100 commemorative plaques unveiled in 2014 across Canada by the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund to recognize the centennial of Canada’s First Internment Operations.
During the First World War the Canadian Government interned approximately 8579 people as ‘enemy aliens’ in 24 camps located in remote regions of Canada based purely on their heritage and language. Those interned were from nations which Canada was at war with such as Turkey, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this included many people of Ukrainian heritage. The internees were disenfranchised, their goods and wealth were confiscated, and they were heavily censured, losing access to newspapers and their freedom of speech. The internees were also forced to provide labour for Canadian infrastructure projects. This included building highways and railroads, mining and logging, and constructing many of Canada’s National Parks such as Banff and Jasper. Even though World War One ended in 1918, many camps were still in use until 1920. As well, over 80,000 so called ‘enemy aliens’ were not interned but required to carry special papers and report regularly to police.
Announcing CTO – The One Hundred Plaques Across Canada Initiative
To mark the 100th anniversary of Canada's first national internment operations of 1914- 1920, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation (www.ucclf.ca) will be unveiling 100 plaques on Friday, 22 August 2014, the 100th anniversary of the War Measures Act.
In order to commemorate this event, 100 plaques will be unveiled at 100 sites across Canada on Friday, August 22 2014, at 11am local time. 17 of the 100 unveilings will occur in Alberta. This will create a wave of unveilings across the country; the first of its kind in Canada. Each location bares significance to Ukrainian, German, Serbian, Hungarian and Croatian people. The sites, which span from Nanaimo, British Columbia to Amherst, Nova Scotia, include churches, museums, and cultural centres.
Dr Lubomyr Luciuk, the CTO project leader, said: "Beginning in 1994, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (www.uccla.ca) began placing historical markers to recall the internment operations, hoping to eventually have a plaque at each of the 24 camp sites. We started with Kingston's own Fort Henry, the location of Canada’s first permanent internment camp. Over the course of some 20 years our volunteers and supporters have made sure each internment camp location has been marked. The CTO project builds on UCCLA's foundational work. These plaques will hallow the memory of all of the victims of the internment operations and help educate our fellow Canadians about a little-known episode in Canada’s national history. That fulfils the mandate of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund and of the UCCLF.
This is the first time in Canadian history that any community has attempted to unveil 100 historical plaques from coast to coast at the same (local) time. This couldn’t happen without the enthusiastic support of hundreds of volunteers in 100 communities across the country, from Amherst, Nova Scotia to Nanaimo, British Columbia, and Grand Prairie, Alberta to Val D’Or, Quebec to name but a few. We’re also very grateful to our Patriarch, the two Metropolitans, the national executive of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the representatives of the other affected communities and many of our internee descendants, for their help.
The initiative is being supported by both the UCCLF (Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation), and the CFWWIRF (Endowment Council of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund). UCCLF has generously provided the plaques, free of charge, which are slated to arrive around July 9. The plaques are aluminum, oval, weigh approximately 6 lbs, and are meant to be wall mounted at a public and secure location. The plaque will arrive with instructions, and it is up to the locals to decide where it should be placed.
Seventeen Commemorative Internment plaques were unveiled in Alberta on August 22, 2014 at 11:00 am:
- Kule Folklore Centre, 200 Old Arts and Convocation Hall, Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
- All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 5402-53 Street, Camrose, Alberta
- Ukrainian Canadian Museum & Archives, 9543– 110 Avenue NW, Edmonton, Alberta
- St Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 12104-129 Ave, Edmonton, Alberta
- St Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, 4504- 49 Avenue, Vermilion, Alberta
- St Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 5146-48 Avenue, Vegreville, Alberta
- St John’s Institute, 11024-82 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta
- Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church, 5701 51 Street, Vegreville, Alberta
- St John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral 10611 – 110 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta
- Village of Munson, 103 Main Street, Munson, Alberta
- Galt Museum and Archives, 910-4th Avenue South, Lethbridge, Alberta
- Ukrainian Youth (CYM) Unity Complex, 915-153 Avenue NW, Edmonton, Alberta
- Grande Prairie Museum & Heritage Village, 10329 101 Avenue, Grande Prairie, Alberta
- Basilian Fathers Museum and Archives, 5335 Sawchuk Street, Mundare, Alberta
- Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, 729-6 Street NE, Calgary, Alberta
- CYM- Ukrainian Youth Association, Calgary Branch, 409-9th Ave NE, Calgary, Alberta
- St Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 404 Meredith Road NE, Calgary, Alberta
For more information visit the UCCLA website.
Hours of Operation
The CTO Plaque can be viewed during Grande Prairie Museum Summer Hours when the Heritage Village is open.