Papa’s Babies: The Brook Family and the First World War

Thank you to our guest author Ashley Henrickson for this interesting post. Ashley is a M.A. student at the University of Lethbridge and the Museum Educator at the Galt Museum and Archives. Her research examines the experiences of young people living in the Canadian Prairies whose fathers or brothers served overseas during the First World War. Ashley received the Roger Soderstrom Scholarship in 2017. The funds from this scholarship allowed her to visit archives across Alberta and present her research at “Children, Youth, and War,” a symposium hosted by the University of Georgia.

A never-ending cycle of children, chores, and neighbors cut through Isabelle Brook’s home, constantly interrupting the letters she wrote at her kitchen table. Isabelle apologized for her “jumbled up” proses as she paused to prepare dinner, answer the door, or tend to her busy children: “Alice is here wiggling around like a little eel, so I must quit”; “Gordon is wakening up I must go”; “Glen’s upset the ink over the table cloth now.” The constant movement suggests that life for Isabelle and her five children may have been lonely without their father, but it was not dull.

The hundreds of “jumbled up” letters that Isabelle wrote from her kitchen table in Craigmyle, Alberta, are a valuable and vibrant record of Alberta’s past. She sent these letters to her forty-five-year-old husband, Sidney Brook, who served on the Western Front with the Canadian Expeditionary Force from 1916-1918. In response Sidney sent hundreds of letters to his family, which were preserved alongside Isabelle’s by their descendants and then donated to the Glenbow Archives. The Brook’s collection is especially valuable because very few letters sent from families living in Alberta to soldiers serving overseas have survived to the modern day. This is because soldiers, like Sidney, were constantly moving across the Western Front and had to carry all their personal belongings with them. This forced them to destroy all but a few precious letters that they could fit in their pocket.

Letter from Sidney Brook to his wife Isabelle, January 7, 1917 (from the Brook family fonds, Glenbow Museum and Archives,

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Alberta Museums Association: Championing Alberta’s Museums

The Alberta Museums Assocation, founded in 1971, is a non-profit society whose mission is to lead, facilitate, and support museums in their vital role with communities. The Museums Association now has more than 200 Institutional and 250 Individual Members among its membership. The Association is one of five provincial heritage organizations that receive annual funding from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. May 18th is International Museums Day, a day to raise awareness of the importance of museums. Be sure to visit one of your local Alberta museums to celebrate!

Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site, Drumheller Valley. Photo Credit: Erika Price @erykahprice

Museums are invaluable resources and contributors to communities; they educate, they engage, they convene, they inspire, they question, and they evolve. The Alberta Museums Association (AMA) champions the value of museums to stakeholders across the province and beyond, and works to ensure that museums create dynamic connections with their communities. We also offer a variety of programs and services, including:

  • Professional development opportunities, including our Annual Conference, Certificate in Museum Studies, and other specialized learning events to increase the professionalization of the sector;
  • Allocation of funding to museums and museum professionals to facilitate the completion of innovative work throughout the province, and;
  • Administration of the Recognized Museum Program to help museums fulfill their public trust responsibilities and ensure their succession for the future.

These programs are extensively used and have proven valuable to members as they reinvent themselves and solidify their roles as connected, creative hubs in their communities. Read more

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. Read more

Spirit Houses in Willmore Wilderness Park

This week’s blog post is guest-authored by the Willmore Wilderness Preservation and Historical Foundation and features work conducted in the summer of 2016 with the support of the Government of Alberta through the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. We hope you enjoy their fascinating stories and stunning photographs.

Willmore Wilderness Preservation & Historical Foundation is a non-profit society registered under the Alberta Societies Act in 2002. The Foundation became a Registered Charitable Organization in 2003. The Foundation preserves the history of the area; focuses on the advancement of education of the park; restores historical pack trails and sites; and enhances the use of Willmore Wilderness Park for Albertans and visitors alike. Read more

2015 Alberta Historical Resources Foundation Application Deadlines

A new year means a new round of funding opportunities through the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation (AHRF). Grants are available under the the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP) for municipally-led heritage survey, inventory and management plan projects and are reviewed and issued four times per year. The Heritage Preservation Partnership Program (HPPP) includes grants for conservation heritage awareness, publication and research projects; as well as two heritage scholarship categories with applications reviewed twice per year. The chart below outlines the 2015 deadlines for the two programs:


Please refer to the links above to access the grant guidelines for each funding program. Questions regarding MHPP can be directed to Michael Thome, Acting Manager of Municipal Heritage Services at or 780-438-8508 and questions regarding HPPP can be directed to Carina Naranjilla, AHRF Grant Program Coordinator at or 780-431-2305.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

Municipal Heritage Projects Receive Support from Foundation

The new year is getting into full swing, and 2015 will see communities across Alberta conserving and celebrating their valued historic places.

This past Fall, several local governments applied for Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP) Grants from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. At the Foundation Board’s November 29, 2014 meeting, five municipalities received funding for strategic heritage planning projects. These initiatives will help to create a meaningful future for key heritage resources.

Municipal Heritage Partnership Program grants were awarded to five communities across Alberta.
Municipal Heritage Partnership Program grants were awarded to five communities across Alberta.

The City of Lethbridge is continuing its heritage planning work with a Phase III project to add information to its Heritage Inventory. This smaller project will evaluate approximately properties from the City’s “Places of Interest” List. Lethbridge received a matching grant of $5, 500 in MHPP funding.

Over the past few years, the Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass has completed Phases I and II of their own Heritage Inventory, documenting and evaluating the communities of Coleman, Frank, and Blairmore. This year, they will be working on the former Village of Bellevue, Hillcrest Mines, Passburg, and the rural area to the eastern-most boundary of the municipality. For this comprehensive project, Crowsnest Pass received a matching grant of $30, 000 in MHPP funding.

Moving up to central Alberta, Strathcona County has long partnered with the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program. They are continuing their Heritage Inventory work with a Phase III project evaluating additional properties from their Places of Interest List. Evaluating a smaller number of priority sites is a budget-friendly way for a municipality to continue its heritage planning work. Strathcona County received a matching grant of $6, 000 in MHPP funding.

The Town of High River, valiantly soldiering on with its heritage work after the catastrophic floods of 2013, applied to continue with Phase III of their evaluation work as well. This Phase will supplement the previous projects, which laid a great foundation for the future. High River received a matching grant of $20, 000 in MHPP funding.

Taking a jog out west, Yellowhead County is doing something different this time around. While the other grant recipients prioritized evaluation work, the County is preparing its first Heritage Management Plan. Having completed a few rounds of Heritage Survey and Inventory work already, the time has come to focus on policy and strategy. Yellowhead county received a matching grant of $20, 000 in MHPP funding.

What these projects demonstrate is the increasing skill and capacity of local governments across Alberta to evaluate and manage their own, top-notch heritage programs. The increasing number of historic places being protected and conserved as Municpal Historic Resources is a testimony to the excellent work being done at the local level – all over Alberta. Congratulations!

Archaeological Society of Alberta: Connecting Albertans with Archaeology

The Archaeological Society of Alberta, incorporated in 1975, is an amateur organization committed to promoting, protecting and preserving Alberta’s heritage. The Society is one of five provincial heritage organizations that receive annual funding from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. The Society is currently made up of over 400 members, organised into six centres: Strathcona (Edmonton and area), Bodo, Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and Southeastern (Medicine Hat). Membership in the Society is open to anyone with an interest in archaeology and it provides great opportunities for people of all ages to get involved in actively experiencing, promoting and protecting Alberta’s archaeological resources!

Artifacts brought into a “Stones and Bones” event hosted by the Lethbridge chapter of the ASA, March 2014. Photo courtesy of John Easton.
Artifacts brought into a “Stones and Bones” event hosted by the Lethbridge chapter of the ASA, March 2014. Photo courtesy of John Easton.

The Society facilitates public outreach programs and supports archaeological research across Alberta. Its programs include Speaker Series, workshops, fieldtrips, “Stones and Bones” events and an annual conference and general meeting that consists of a full day of speakers, a poster session and a day long fieldtrip. Professionals from the Archaeological Survey of the Historic Resources Management Branch often assist with, and participate in, Society events.

Members of the Strathcona society making their own stone tools at the March 2014 flintknapping workshop. Photo courtesy of Kurtis Blaikie-Birkigt.
Members of the Strathcona society making their own stone tools at the March 2014 flintknapping workshop. Photo courtesy of Kurtis Blaikie-Birkigt.

Speaker Series takes place from fall to spring and highlight Alberta archaeology through a monthly talk given by a professional archaeologist. The Strathcona centre is currently collaborating with the Edmonton Telus World of Science by offering the Speaker Series in conjunction with the Indiana Jones exhibit! Recent workshops have included flintknapping, artifact casting, historic artifact identification and artifact illustration. These workshops are day long or weekend events that teach people traditional and archaeological skills. The flintknapping workshop is one of the most popular events. Expert flintknappers from across the province and country teach members how to make their own stone tools using traditional methods of striking two rocks together and using antler tines to refine the shape of the tool and its edges. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to craft your own projectile point! “Stones and Bones” events provide a venue where avocational archaeologists, collectors, and the public can bring their artifacts in to be identified by professionals. This often results in valuable archaeological resources being revealed that enhance the archaeological record of the province. Fieldtrips to all types of sites including medicine wheels, effigies, bison jumps and pounds, and ceremonial sites allow an opportunity for Society members to visit archaeological sites and sometimes witness an active excavation.

Members of the Southeastern centre on a field trip to an effigy site in southern Alberta. Photo courtesy of Janice Andreas.
Members of the Southeastern centre on a field trip to an effigy site in southern Alberta. Photo courtesy of Janice Andreas.

In addition to these programs, the Society provides funding and volunteer assistance to research projects undertaken by centres, educational institutions or individual members that enhance the knowledge and protection of Alberta’s historic resources. This includes archival research, excavation, or the survey of archaeological sites. Recent research this grant program has supported includes mapping of the Glenbow Town and Quarry site by the Calgary Centre, ongoing excavation at a bison kill site in Bodo and a survey of the Forks region in southeastern Alberta by Society members. All of this research has incorporated public participation by welcoming members to lend a helping hand.

Society members volunteering at an active archaeological excavation. Photo courtesy of Janice Andreas.
Society members volunteering at an active archaeological excavation. Photo courtesy of Janice Andreas.

In addition to hands-on activities, the Archaeological Society of Alberta produces several archaeological publications. The Alberta Archaeological Review, published bi-annually since 1977, provides news of the Society’s activities and a forum for the presentation of archaeological research in Alberta. The Society also publishes archaeological reports and papers and has produced several versions of the popular book “Record in Stone: Familiar Projectile Points from Alberta” which outlines projectile point typology of the province.

Support from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation makes it possible for organizations like this to carry out their mandates and create new initiatives to engage the public and make our province’s culture and heritage accessible to everyone! The foundation receives money from the Alberta Lottery Fund that is used to provide financial and technical assistance to community based heritage projects including several Provincial Heritage Organizations, like the Archaeological Society of Alberta, that deliver programs and services that document, preserve and present the province’s heritage.

Click on these links for more information about the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation and the Archaeological Society of Alberta.

Written by: Courtney Lakevold, Archaeological Information Coordinator