The "100 Parks, 100 Names" project was created in 2014 to celebrate Grande Prairie's Centennial by naming 100 parks after 100 influential residents who have contributed significantly to our city's history and helped make our community what it is today.
100 Parks, 100 Names - Official Names
Homesteading in 1921, Germaine Adair was the 1st woman in Alberta to be appointed a Justice of the Peace. She worked for 26 years as a magistrate, court clerk and court administrator.
Shortly after the war, Jack and Gertrude Alloway purchased 10 acres on Bear Creek, south of Grande Prairie, through the Veteran’s Land Act which had been put in place to help returning veterans borrow money to buy land. The land and buildings on this property are of great historical significance. The log barn built by William Innis in 1910-1911 and the log house built in 1912-1913 both still remain on the site. These buildings are still in use today, making them 2 of the oldest buildings in town. In the early 1970s the city expropriated a portion of the Alloway property which was surrounded by Bear Creek for remediation, and in the 1980’s Jack subdivided the land into 2 parcels and sold them back to the city. The purchase of the land was part of Grande Prairie’s master plan to acquire all land adjacent to Bear Creek and make it part of Muskoseepi Park.
H.W. Archibald and Ike Nelson co-owned the Nelson & Archibald general store.
This park has been known as Avondale Park for many decades and so has been officially named to keep with tradition.
Bill Beattie (1926-2009) was a recognized contributor to Grande Prairie and area. He served on the Peace Regional Planning Commission. He was involved with the local Air Cadets and served as a National President and was a president for the Rotary Club. Bill was a well-known civil servant and worked for Alberta’s Transportation Department. O’Brien Lake subdivision is built on his former farmland.
Bill Bessent’s family arrived in Grande Prairie in 1927 at the start of the World War II, and, as a 16 year old, Bill and his brother joined the Air Force and served overseas. Bill completed a full tour of 30 missions.
John Bickell started his first bush mill in the 1920’s and it expanded to be the Northern Planing Mill in the late 1940’s. In 1953 he joined with partners to establish Northern Plywood Alberta’s first plywood mill. Two years later Canadian Forest Products bought a 50 percent share of the company and it continued to expand.
Jack Bird owned and operated Bird’s Cash and Carry Groceries from 1930 to 1958. It is located at the present site of CIBC bank downtown.
Gordon Bloomfield began D & B Construction with his brother in-law, Jack Durrant and they built numerous homes in the community in the 35 years it was in business. Both Hazel and Gordon were active volunteers into their 80’s. Gordon helped create the Alberta New Home Warranty Program.
Russ Bowen served in the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII. He moved to Grande Prairie in 1946. Here he served as a municipal clerk and secretary/treasurer for the City of Grande Prairie, as well as secretary/treasurer of the County of Grande Prairie. Russ was an avid sportsman, coached Little League and Minor Hockey and played on the Legion hockey team and senior baseball team.
Bill formed Bowes Publishing with his two brothers and purchased the Grande Prairie Herald Tribune in 1950. The community involvement of both Margaret and Bill is too numerous to recite. They have been involved in nearly every community event held. Through this involvement with the Chamber of Commerce, Bill was instrumental in getting the railroad to Grande Prairie. The existence of Odyssey House is thanks largely to Margaret’s efforts.
Russell Burgess (1905-1991) arrived in 1928 and began working for Mr. Wong, owner of the Windsor Café, cutting wood and making ice in the arena. He became the town policeman in 1929 and later the public works foreman.
William Caldwell was a quick study of the Cree language. His fluency in it more than helped his relations with Cree trappers. It also helped his bottom line. According to many he had traded an estimated $1 million worth of furs throughout his career. In May 1913, Caldwell and John McAuley opened a store known as the Selkirk Trading Company. They did so just slightly ahead of a rival business called the Hudson’s Bay Company Store. In the Grande Prairie Herald in March 1913, noted that McAuley and Caldwell’s store “promises to be one of the best on the prairie”. At the Selkirk Trading Company you could buy almost anything, groceries, hardware, building supplies, cream separators and whatever you needed to make a happy home. The Selkirk Trading Company building is still standing. It is the oldest building downtown and now houses Al’s News.
The Campbell’s were the first recorded inhabitants of the site which would later become known as the City of Grande Prairie, They came in approximately 1885 and built a house along Bear Creek where the Southview IGA is now.
Dr. Andrew Murray Carlisle was on Ontario in 1896, he served as a stretcher-bearer in WWI and arrived in Grande Prairie in 1921, In 1925 he left to work at Toronto Sick Children’s for a short time but returned to Wembley in 1926 and then to Grande Prairie in 1936 where he served as a family doctor for the next 20 years.
Eugene Michael Cashman was the first garbage man in Grande Prairie. He was hired in 1917 as “the village scavenger, sanitary inspector and nuisance grounds provider”, but died of peritonitis in 1921. He was buried in the Mission Cemetery, where Canfor is now.
This park has been unofficially named for many years and so has been officially named.
Cyril Clarke was educated at Oxford University, a classmate of Winston Churchill. He served as an interpreter in France in WWI. He was unable to farm on his land in Teepee Creek due to severe asthma, so he concentrated on vegetable and flower production, particularly peonies. He tested 2000 peony cultivars across 30 years of collecting. After his death his plant collection was donated to the Beaverlodge Research Station, the Devonian Botanical Garden and the University of Alberta.
Linda Cowell retired from the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen in 2013. This compassionate woman made a tremendous impact on many of the homeless, transient and marginalized people in our community. She cared deeply for all of them. This was reflected in the thousands of nourishing meals prepared by her with the help of volunteers. Whether it was with a hearty bowl of soup or a listening ear Linda was present for these people. Linda made sure they were treated with respect and dignity.
Angie is a leader in the Metis Community. She is responsible for the creation of the Elders Caring Shelter in Grande Prairie. She has received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award and the Governor General’s Award.
Patrick and Gregory Croken moved to Grande Prairie in 1916. They owned and operated stores in Bezanson and Grande Prairie. Paddy Croken also served on the Board of St. Joseph’s Academy. Jenny Croken had 3 trumpeter swans as pets in her childhood. She was prevented from working for Canada Post in Grande Prairie because she was married and had children. John Croken was a long serving member of the Catholic School Board and is a former City Alderman.
Merv Crouse owned and operated Crouse's Cleaners after taking over from his father Mel. He started the Coats for Kids Campaign which provides used outerwear to underprivileged children throughout the community.
Knut Dalen moved to Grande Prairie in 1920 and operated a brick yard from 1922-1955. He was producing 10,000 bricks a day in 1931 using horsepower. The CIBC bank, amongst other buildings, were built with bricks from his brickyard.
Clennell Haggerston ‘Punch” Dickins brought the first airplane delivered mail to Grande Prairie in 1925, he landed on Bear Lake. He was awarded the first contract to fly weekly mail service to Grande Prairie in 1929. He was the first pilot to fly the entire length of the Mackenzie River as well as to Great Bear Lake. And he was the second recipient of the McKee trophy in 1928.
Frank Donald arrived in Grande Prairie in 1917. He purchased the Grande Prairie Hotel from Jack Sutherland, and in 1937 he opened another hotel in Grande Prairie, called the Donald. It was large, luxurious, and illustrated the spirit of Frank Donald’s faith in Grande Prairie. Frank was much more than a hotel man. He diversified into many other business efforts, investing in Grande Prairie’s two moving picture houses, buying and improving the Wapiti Rink, and building the Donald Recreation Centre. He also raised cattle, and had a string of race horses that were said to be some of the very best in all of Western Canada. He was also a great supporter of all sports, and a huge fan of hockey in particular. He would charter a train to take hockey fans from Grande Prairie to Hythe to cheer on the Grande Prairie hockey team.
Jack Durrant started D&B Building Contractors with his brother-in-law Gorden Bloomfield. He is responsible for building many houses throughout Grande Prairie in the 1970s boom.
This park was unofficially named Carter Park, after Carter Eschyschyn, born December 13, 1999 in Grande Prairie. The park has now been officially named.
Mike Fedyna moved to Grande Prairie in 1971 and opened the Wigwam Hairstyling Salon. He became known as “Mike the Barber” by most and also had a knack for doing toupees that looked very realistic in the 70’s. Mike retired in about 1999, but he continued to cut a handful of people’s hair in his basement as a favour to his long-standing customers. He did amazing carvings out of moose antlers and was an avid hunter.
John ‘Jack’ H.E. Fitzallen came over the Edson Trail and settled at Lake Saskatoon, where he sold insurance in 1914 and moved his business to Grande Prairie in 1916. From 1916 to 1922 he was the secretary-treasurer of the Village of Grande Prairie, being paid $40/month to act as Constable, Health Officer and General Overseer of the Village.
Flowerdale Park has been tended for many years by Audrey Wells and Linda McMillan. The neighbourhood wanted these ladies' beautification efforts recognized by officially naming the park.
Denise Gaboury came to Grande Prairie in 1980 as a talented pianist, performing for many, including the Duke and Duchess of York and Ralph Klein. She was also an active member with the GP Choir, singing and playing for many events. Denise also taught music to many children in Grande Prairie for many years. She went to many schools within Grande Prairie and taught the children the art of making Ukrainian Easter eggs and the significance behind each symbol that was placed upon the egg.
Magistrate Galway migrated from Ireland in 1888, graduated in law from the University of Manitoba, and began his career as a police magistrate. In 1929 he came to Grande Prairie. The job that he adopted was no small task. He was to ensure that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police took over from the Alberta Provincial Police by 1932. By 1943, Magistrate Galway saw to it that policing in Grande Prairie was no longer carried out by civilian town constables. On July 1, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police officially took over policing of the town of Grande Prairie.
This park has been unofficially named for many years and so it has been officially named.
Named for Charlie and Mary Graban. Mary was first president of the Grande Prairie Women’s Institute in 1924. Charlie served on town council in 1942-43.
Elvera finished high school at the Grande Prairie High School, now part of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie. She attended the University of Alberta where she received her teaching diploma in 1952. She served at numerous district schools, many of them one room school houses.
Born in Scotland in 1880, Frank Guthrie served in the Boer War, and was with the same outfit that included Winston Churchill. In 1905, he came to Canada and worked in Winnipeg and Edmonton. In 1909, while in Edmonton, he was married and became the chef at the Royal George Hotel. When Mr. IE Gaudin of Beaverlodge told Mr. Guthrie that Grande Prairie was looking for someone to run a hotel owned by Billy Salmond, they travelled by train to Edson and made the rest of the trip by covered wagon. The couple arrived in February of 1914 to work for Mr. Salmond. They built their own restaurant and were especially known for their bake oven, which was the first of its kind in Grande Prairie.
Olaf Hanson moved to GP in 1949. He bought Bill Fleming’s Hardware on Main Street and later turned it in Marshall Wells Hardware. He was president of the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce in 1953 and member of the Valhalla brass band. Olaf was well known for his generosity and helping those in dire need.
Cpl. Archie Harvey was a member of the Grande Prairie RCMP who was killed in the line of duty on June 23rd, 1967 while investigating a domestic disturbance. At the time of this death, he had served 16 years with the RCMP in 8 different locations in Alberta. Ironically he had joined the force on June 23, 1951 and was killed on the 16th anniversary of joining the force.
Allan Hauger served overseas in WWII. He worked as a security guard/maintenance person in the 2-14 Building and Nordic Court. He was an avid volunteer in senior’s organizations, delivering Meals on Wheels for 20 years, assisted in senior transportation twice per month for the Legion Luncheon and volunteered for the Young at Heart group out of the Alliance Church.
George and Isabella Head moved west from Ontario with their 7 children in 1918, eventually having 3 more children here. They became successful farmers in the area and their children were involved in several businesses around town. Their one son Ken played professional hockey in Scotland from 1949-1951. He coached the Athletics and the Junior North Stars and was inducted in the Grande Prairie Legends Hall of Fame.
Long-time volunteers in Grande Prairie, Mac and Chris Henderson have contributed much to the Grande Prairie community landscape.
L.G. Fredette was an early veterinarian in the Grande Prairie area. He married Edith Hibbs who was a matron of the hospital that opened in 1929. She was a WWI veteran in the Canadian Army Medical Corps, serving in Turkey and the Dardanelles. She was decorated for her services by King George V at Buckingham Palace with the Royal Red Cross 2nd Class.
After graduating from nursing at Toronto General Hospital in 1888 and receiving her MD Degree in 1893, Annie Carveth moved to California to set up her practice as a medical doctor. It was there she married a man named Professor Higbee. In 1911, the couple joined Andrew Carveth in a journey by oxen that took them from Newcastle, Ontario to the Peace River Country. They settled in Bezanson. There she became the first female doctor in the region. By July 1913, Dr. Higbee was working with other great women such as Mrs. Alexander Forbes and Nurse Baird to the cornerstone for the Presbyterian Hospital. She was Canada’s oldest doctor and passed away at the age of 100. She will long be remembered by residents of the Peace River country as the woman who would rush by horseback or buggy to the side of a stricken settler, day or night.
Clifford Stanley Hook (1884-1966) was a jeweller and watchmaker that moved to Grande Prairie in 1918 when he purchased the R.H. Watcher jewellery business. He became the first optometrist in the region.
Guy Ireland (1932-2013) was a volunteer fireman for many years, before becoming a full-time fireman in 1966. He later became a mail carrier for many years in the Hillside area. He played in the Marching Band, sang in the Community Choir, and was involved with the Little Theatre. He published a book of poetry in 2000 called ‘Songs of the Wild’ about his love for the Peace Country. Guy also worked to help develop the GP Museum. His father, Clive, ran one of the first barbershops in Grande Prairie and the family owned land in Muskoseepi Park, where the mini golf is located now.
In 1916, G.A. James came to Grande Prairie from Fort George, Ontario. A mere three years later, this druggist and farmer became the first elected mayor of the Town of Grande Prairie. Among the accomplishments achieved during his time as mayor (1919 to 1920) included the town’s purchase of a fire truck and the creation of two services that any growing society would deem necessary: the police force and the board of trade. In addition, it was during the tenure of G.A. James as mayor that the Town of Grande Prairie purchased Grande Prairie Power Plant Limited. In his lifetime, G.A. James watched Grande Prairie continued to grow and thrive.
Thomas Kerr arrived in the Grande Prairie area in 1881, having been sent to build and operate the first Hudson’s Bay Store. He homesteaded on the shores of Sturgeon Lake and operated the store for many years.
Robert Keys served as town and city secretary/treasurer for 36 years, from 1923 to 1959, a period covering the tenure of 13 different mayors.
Jim Kluyt moved from Red Deer in 1965 to take the position of Horticulturalist with the City of Grande Prairie. For many years he designed some of the most beautiful parks in the city, one of the finest being Jubilee Park in the heart of the City. He also pursued the entrepreneurial spirit and opened the Swan City Gardens Greenhouse on the South end of the City, where the Alliance Church is today. Into his retirement he worked for the Grande Prairie Public School District to enhance the outdoor parks for the children, and helped to bring the benefits of nature indoors to schools across the district. Jim’s love for the parks and the natural beauty they provide was evident, as he dedicated his life’s work to ensuring everyone had an opportunity to experience the serenity that nature provides.
This park was unofficially named Payton Park, after Payton Kriska, born June 2, 2000 in Grande Prairie. The park has now been officially named.
Marcel Lafleur was raised in Guy, Alberta, moved to Vancouver to seek better opportunity but wanted to be back in the Peace country. He moved his family to Grande Prairie in 1972. In 1977 he started Lafleur Carpentry where he and his brother did finishing and cabinets inside homes and apartments such as Ranchlands. After a short time his brother moved away and Marcel started to specialize in custom cabinets.
Elmer Logan came to Grande Prairie in 1948 to run the York Hotel. He graduated from the University of Alberta in Arts and Law in 1937. He was instrumental in getting the Grande Prairie Airport runways rebuilt to handle heavy aircraft. His son Dwight is a former Mayor and current councillor for the City of Grande Prairie.
Les Longmate was an active volunteer and owned and operated Windsor Ford since 1946. He served on City Council in the early 1960’s. His family continues to meet the bar he set for community service.
John and Sylvia MacDonald came to Grande Prairie in the early 1900’s. They were well known in the community for many things, but most of all for their involvement with minor hockey. Johnny’s first involvement with the kids came in the 1930’s, when the Minor Hockey Association didn’t even exist. At one time, he had 13 hockey teams and did not charge anyone to participate. While Johnny was out on the ice with the youngsters, Sylvia was sewing uniforms and feeding the children so they could play. Their motto was ‘no child shall be turned away’.
Joseph (Joe) Mark (1901-1966) was born in China and moved to Canada in 1909. He operated Joe’s Corner Coffee Shop at the corner of 100 Street and 100 Avenue from 1948 until he retired.
This was unofficially named Gabriel Park, after Gabriel Mason, born August 18, 1999 in Grande Prairie. The park has now been officially named.
As Grande Prairie’s most recognized music celebrity, Brad Mates has never forgotten where his roots lie. Brad started on the road to success with 5 Grande Prairie High School friends in the band 12 Gauge. After 6 years of touring the band landed a record contract with Dreamworks Records and renamed themselves Emerson Drive. The band line-up has changed over the years with Brad the only remaining founding member. With numerous awards in both Canada and the United States, Emerson Drive is the only Canadian country band in history to have a #1 song in the US. Brad now uses his name and fame to raise significant dollars for charity. With the help of a dedicated Grande Prairie community Brad has reached his goal of raising $500,000 for Parkinson’s Research at the University of Alberta. He has also raised $100,000 towards the new professional recording studio at the Grande Prairie Regional College and since 1998 has given a yearly music scholarship to a deserving GPRC student.
Liliane Matheson was a day home provider who took her kids to the park adjacent to her home every day, unless it was -40 degrees below. Liliane was instrumental in organizing park parties and welcomed everyone as if they were family.
Wilfrid Reid ‘Wop’ May (1896-1952) served in the Royal Air Force in WWI and was involved in the battle with the Red Baron that saw the death of the German flying ace. He was the first pilot to land in Grande Prairie in a Curtiss JN-4 Jenny in 1920. Wilfrid founded the first Grande Prairie aircraft company in 1924 with Harry Adair, a local farmer who donated land for an airstrip near Bear Lake. Wilfrid was the famous bush pilot involved with the Race against Death in 1928, and the Hunt for the Mad Trapper in 1932. He was awarded the McKee trophy in 1929.
John McAuley (1875-1932) was a pioneer fur trader in Grande Prairie and co-owner of the Selkirk Trading Company. He was the first to trade furs in Grande Prairie. He owned a farm on the banks of the Wapiti River. He served on village council for several years and also provided judgements to the native population.
When the US army was building the Alaska Highway during the Second World War there were 2 artists who were granted permission to record the progress in opening this vital access route to the north. One of those artists was Euphemia McNaught, the other was one of her prized students and friends, Evelyn (Evy) McBryan. As the US army set up its camps from Dawson Creek throughout the wilderness of northern British Columbia, McNaught and McBryan were there to capture the change to the landscape. Interestingly the work they did as artists on this particular project was done undercover. Because women weren’t allowed on such sites, Euphemia and Evy had to dress up as men. Through the 1960s, Evy McBryan served on the Provincial Board of Culture. From 1964 to 1974, she was the arts and crafts coordinator for Grande Prairie. In the 1970s she was also responsible for organizing the Peace Region Arts Council and establishing school exhibition programs.
Grant McConachie got his pilot license at age 20, conducted aerial exploration work on the Canol Road project and had a contract with the US government to do aerial charting for the Alaska Highway. He started the first scheduled passenger air service to Grande Prairie from Edmonton in 1936. He received the McKee trophy in 1945.
Perky McCullough moved to Grande Prairie with her husband Bruce in 1966 after retiring from the Edmonton Police Service. She was an avid sports woman and was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
Lorna was a founding member of the GP Garden Club, served as the president of the Alberta Horticultural Association, and was awarded an Honorary Life Membership in 2008, served as a Provincial, National and International Judge for Communities In Bloom for the past decade, and has served on the Take Park, Take Pride Committee for many years.
Ira McLaughlin came west in 1910 at the age of 19. He moved to the Grande Prairie area in 1928. He was MLA for the Grande Prairie Wapiti region for a total of 28 years and was instrumental in many development projects for both the City and County of Grande Prairie. He died in 1974 at the age of 83.
Walter Medlock arrived in Grande Prairie on August 2, 1911 and homesteaded on the southwest shore of Crystal Lake. He and his family planted trees around the Crystal Lake pavilion that remain there to this day. He ran a barbershop in Grande Prairie for many years, from 1912 until the mid-1940s.
The Menzies Family has a five generation history in Grande Prairie as entrepreneurs, business owners, and volunteers. They founded Menzies Printers in 1946 and it still operates today.
Barney Michaels established the first theatre downtown Grande Prairie in the spring of 1916, the 250 seat Grande Theatre located on the south side of Richmond Avenue about halfway between Clairmont Road and 101 Street. This theatre burned down in 1921. He then opened a new Grande Theatre on the west end of downtown, on the old Park Hotel site in 1922.
John Miedema was a respected 26 year (1953 – 1979) City of Grande Prairie employee, and our first City Manager. He was a dedicated visionary who anticipated the need for “green spaces” and recreation areas for all to enjoy. He encouraged green space area development in new subdivisions which was a valuable and lasting contribution to the development of the City of Grande Prairie.
The Minhas family has been integral in the community and business development of Grande Prairie since Mohinder and Yadvinder Minhas arrived in 1972. The brothers helped build the Sikh temple in the 1980s and brought the richness of their Indian Heritage to the city through cultural events and programming. In 2007, Yad Minhas was elected as the first Indian Alderman in Alberta, a legacy that this community and his family are incredibly proud of. Over the years, the Minhas family has launched and donated to various community initiatives and teams. The family has a diversity of businesses from trucking to hotels, to car dealerships, employing over 250 city residents.
Alexander Monkman was hired to open a trading post in Grande Prairie. He grew the first grain in the Grande Prairie area in 1902. He discovered a pass through the Rocky Mountains in the early 1920’s, now known as the Monkman Pass. Henry and Jo Monkman have both been involved in numerous organizations.
The Oatway family has homesteaded their home quarter for over 100 years since 1910. John Oatway travelled the long trail north from Edmonton through Athabasca to Peace River, then south through Dunvegan to Grande Prairie in only 18 days by horse and wagon.
J.B. Oliver operated a funeral home in the early years of Grande Prairie. The vehicle he used to transport coffins to the cemetery was also used as the area ambulance until 1961. He helped in the creation of the Wapiti Park, later named O’Brien Park, and he served as president of the Old Timers Association, the Grande Prairie School Board and the United Church Board.
Donald Patrick was born in Lake Saskatoon on April 18, 1911. He was the first Caucasian child born in the area. He was interested in sports and became the Senior Games Coordinator for Zone Eight. He and his wife volunteered at Mackenzie Place. Donald built wheelchair ramps so seniors could get into their homes. He accumulated 8000 volunteer hours.
Thomas William Holmes Paul arrived in Grande Prairie in 1911 driving an ox cart over the Edson Trail for Alexander Forbes. He hauled logs from the Wapiti River to build a church, hospital and manse. He homesteaded with his wife, Nora Annie Fish. He was born in 1894 and died in 1969.
This park was unofficially named Kyra Park, after Kyra Paull, born April 30, 2000 in Grande Prairie. The park has now been officially named.
Gordon Pearcy was the station manager at CFGP Radio, has spent 20 years as a Trustee of the Grande Prairie Public School Board, and is a past president of the Chamber of Commerce. Irene has served 25 years as a registered nurse and then as Director of Volunteers Services at the QEII Hospital. She was very active in the arts community in Grande Prairie.
It was Roy Peterson who raised the idea of building ice rinks in the Bear Creek Flats to Harold Mackay, Max Henning, Ernie Radbourne and Fred Dobbson. In 1957 he saw his dream become a reality. The first hockey season saw 248 kids sign up on a sheet of paper stapled to Roy’s back door.
Paul Pivert served on city council from 1978 to 1983. He was passionate about photography and responsible for immortalizing a large portion of Grande Prairie’s history, cultural and sporting events.
In 1913, seeking his own good fortune in the newspaper business, William Pratt made a trip to Toronto to purchase a press and type. Shortly after that, Pratt, his wife Florence, and their son Garnet made a trek to Grande Prairie. They arrived on February 15, 1913 and discovered that there were no buildings in Grande Prairie with doorways wide enough to fit the press through. It’s amazing to note, then, that the very first issue of his newspaper – The Grande Prairie Herald – made its debut on March 25, 1913. In 1928, as the President of the Grande Prairie Board of Trade, William arranged a promotional tour of the Peace Country. Those invited on the tour were people as influential as E.W. Beatty, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and prominent businessmen from the East. The purpose was to show off the Peace Country, of course, but also to propose solutions to any existing transportation issues that made it harder to get Peace River products to market.
Several years ago the province decided to develop five urban parks in the province. Grande Prairie was fortunate because many years before Mayor George Repka and his council had begun the process of buying the land adjacent to the creek so we were able to develop a park system that stretched from south to north. Mayor Gord Graydon asked Alderman Ernie Radbourne to take on the task of developing the park. And he did – he lived and breathed every aspect of that development. To the degree that at its completion council chipped in out of their own pockets and bought him a license plate reading Mr. Park. Rotary Clubs assisted in the development of the north end of Muskoseepi Park consisting of 5 pods featuring play structures and interactive equipment.
George Repka was the first Mayor of the City of Grande Prairie from 1958 – 1969. He owned the only city Drive In Theatre on the corner of Wapiti Road and 84th Avenue.
Mel Rodacker arrived in Grande Prairie in 1927. He was part of several important businesses in Grande Prairie. He 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 Saskatoon Masonic Lodge, Curling Club and Grande Prairie Athletic Club.
Carter is a Canadian curler and a member of the Canadian Olympic Team that won a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics. He now curls with the 2012 World Champion Kevin Koe rink.
The Sargent Family has been in business in Grande Prairie for over 65 years. They began the Ken & Teresa Sargent Family Foundation. Their generosity is evident throughout the community and they have been long standing sponsors of numerous community events.
Harry has a sense of humour that is unsurpassed by anyone. He was involved in numerous business ventures, including being part of the development of CJXX Radio. He served on the hospital board and was the Director of Gift Planning for several years. He served on the Grande Prairie City Council for two terms.
Beth Sheehan was responsible for the choice of the Trumpeter swan as Grande Prairie’s official symbol, after many years of research and conservation efforts. She was involved with many organizations over the years, including the first International Hot Air Balloon Competition in Grande Prairie. Her extensive photography of the region is part of the Peace Regional Archives collections. Beth was born in 1920 and died in 2013.
W.H. Smith had one of the first homesteads in the area. His homestead included a butcher shop where Centre 2000 is now. His land covered the north-west corner of the Avondale area.
John Edward (Jack) Soars was a well-known radio announcer and host of Alberta’s longest continuing open line show on CFGP Radio. He was a veteran of WWII and served in the Air Force and was a part of the Northern Alberta Broadcast Industry for 45 years. Jack was born in 1919 and died in 2012.
Frank Spicer owned and operated Spicer’s Bakery in Grande Prairie and was an avid fisherman. He was a charter member of the Grande Prairie Kinsmen Club and active member in local drama clubs.
Penny and Murray Spiers passed onto their children their love of Grande Prairie. They were well known as active volunteers and supporters of Grande Prairie.
Ken Svenson, otherwise known as Baldy, was a local character about whom two plays and a book have been written.
Deane R. Toews’ father moved from Manitoba to build the flour mill along Bear Creek. Deane was born in 1929 and his family lived in a small house in the "Flats" now known as Muskoseepi Park. After marrying Marjorie May Scott, they eventually built the home that they resided in for the rest of their lives backing onto the Leisure Center diamonds and soccer fields. Deane worked for a number of key municipal and provincial occupations that promoted our city and was the beginning of the growth Grande Prairie has experienced. He was one of the unsung heroes who believed in Grande Prairie and was extremely proud to encourage businesses to take a chance on a small city with huge potential. Deane worked for the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce for years and was an AMA Board of Director for years, which eventually led him to become a Provincial government department head for Business Development and Tourism for the City of Grande Prairie. He was a highly respected member of the community with a commitment to make Grande Prairie a viable and prosperous place for new businesses to take a chance. Deane was an instrumental key to the success and diversity of the business community in the Grande Prairie area, encouraging large corporations and small businesses to take a chance on the deceivingly large trade area the Peace Country represented.
Percy John Tooley was a real estate agent, United Air transport agent and airport manager. He served seven years on town council before becoming mayor of Grande Prairie from 1933 to 1939. He was responsible for helping Grande Prairie get its first airport in 1935.
This park was unofficially named Alexis Park, after Alexis Trimm, born March 21, 2003 in Grande Prairie. The park has now been officially named.
Charles William Samuel Turner (1917-1996) was known as Mr. Hockey and has been inducted in the Grande Prairie Hockey Hall of Fame. He played from the age of 17 until he was 69. He owned Turner and Sons Building Contractors and built many commercial buildings downtown, the D-Coy Armoury training centre, as well as the Muskoseepi spillway.
Each year on November 11 we honour Remembrance Day “Lest we forget”. The 100th Anniversary Committee wanted a year round tribute to honour those who signed up to defend our country. And so this park has been officially dedicated to the numerous men and women of Grande Prairie who did their part to ensure we can enjoy a beautiful City free from fear and oppression. We thank you.
John Wallace (1899-1986) was a horticulturalist who worked at the Beaverlodge Research Station for many years. He was born in Leeds, England and moved to Canada in 1907. He developed many ornamental varieties of trees and shrubs, including the ‘Wapiti’ juniper, ‘Chickadee’ birch, ‘Pembina’ and ‘Smoky’ Saskatoon. His varieties are featured in many of Grande Prairie’s ornamental parks, including Jubilee Park.
R. Harry Watcher was born in Ontario and by the age of 25 he had already travelled to parts unknown, including Detroit, Michigan before he finally made the trek to Grande Prairie. He arrived in February of 1915 after five days on the High Prairie Trail. One year later the Grande Prairie Herald referred Watcher as “a progressive young businessman” who had built up “a splendid jewellery business”. He was also very active in building the community. By the summer of 1915 he was the secretary of the July 1st Grande Prairie Sports Celebration and a member of the grounds and building committee of the Agricultural Society. Later the multi-talented Watcher also became an alto horn player with the Grande Prairie Band.
The five sons of Peter Wright, who arrived in Grande Prairie in the early 1920’s all served in World War II. Kelly (Robert), Phooey (Allan), Clifford and Roy all were in active duty, and Peter served in the reserves because he was not old enough to enlist. Kelly was killed in action and Clifford died of war trauma, but Allan, Roy and Peter spent their lives in Grande Prairie. In 1944, Lieutenant Allan Wright became one of Canada’s most decorated soldiers, being awarded the Canadian Military Medal and the Distinguished Service Cross medal from the US government for the heroic acts he performed while stationed in Europe during World War II. The US medal is second only to the US Congressional Medal of Honour. He was decorated by both the American and Canadian governments, commissioned to the field and wounded in action. Peter Wright, the youngest brother was a professional hockey player. He played in five leagues and on eight different teams during his hockey career. He opened a sports shop when he moved back to Grande Prairie, which eventually became Ernie’s Sports. He also served as a coach for the GP Athletics. Roy Wright was also a skilled hockey player which he could have had a career in. He had a quick delivery and the hardest wrist shot you have ever seen. He completed a tour of duty overseas as a tail gunner in the Lancaster Bomber. Following the war he was content to return home, bought into a department store business and helped to reinstate home town hockey to its pre-war status.