SAPD Book Club & Speaker Series

The main objective of the SAPD is to research, share and publicize stories of the early pioneers of Southern Alberta. Here in Southern Alberta, many share our objective — museums, galleries, researchers and authors. Come learn from them while sharing our own stories in this new series. Help us find the best research on the history of Southern Alberta by recommending speakers and inviting guests. Come, and add your stories to the discussions. The first events in the series will be February 14, March 14 and April 11.

Free admission. Consider purchasing books at the events or borrowing them from your local library for your own research and discussion. Spread the word.

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Wed, February 14, 7 pm, Memorial Building, 3625 - 4 Street SW
Public, Free Admission

Tickets are free, but please BOOK A TICKET NOW or arrive at the venue early as seating is limited.
Topic: Pioneer Women
Featuring Rachel Herbert with Ranching Women in Southern Alberta

Ranching Women in Southern Alberta examines the rhythms, routines, and realities of women's lives on family ranches. As these ranches replaced the large-scale cattle operations that once covered thousands of acres, women were called upon to ensure not only the ongoing economic viability of their ranches, but also the social harmony of their families and communities. At the same time, ranching women enjoyed personal freedoms and opportunities unknown to their urban and European contemporaries.

The great-granddaughter of pioneer ranchers, Rachel Herbert brings a unique insight to the stories of these brave and talented women who carved a role for themselves and their daughters during the dawn of the family ranch.

"This is the first book to recognize the women who played a crucial role in establishing the family ranch in the foothills of southern Alberta from the late nineteenth century forward. One of the crucial attributes of Rachel Herbert's work is that it enables ranching women to speak for themselves, to tell us who they were and how they viewed their world. Ultimately, it provides convincing evidence not only that women were true partners on the land and in the household during this frontier period, but also that they gained a sense of fulfilment as a result. Sacrifices were numerous but the rewards generally speaking made them worthwhile." – Warren M. Elofson, author of So Far and Yet So Close: Frontier Cattle Ranching in Western Prairie Canada and the Northern Territory of Australia

Rachel Herbert raises grass-fed beef and chases her two free-range kids at historic Trail's End Ranch near Nanton, Alberta.


Wed, March 14, 7 pm, Memorial Building, 3625 - 4 Street SW
Public, Free Admission
Topic: The Elbow River
Featuring John Gilpin the author of The Elbow: A River in the Life of the City

The extensive research that John Gilpin packed into The Elbow: A River in the Life of the City makes the book a demanding but interesting read as each section is described in extraordinary detail including stories of the early entrepreneurs, influential people, city builders and planners as Calgary grew from a NWMP Fort along the Elbow River to a metropolis of over a million people. In chronological order the book is laid out in seven chapters each detailing a critical period of increasing demands on land use along the Elbow River.

The first five chapters cover the period from 1874 with the building of Fort Calgary to the completion of the Glenmore Dam in 1933. Equal attention is spent on addressing opposing concerns between the need to build bridges for the growing communities, expanding businesses, and retaining the need for recreation, with increasing demands by the City Water Works, for clean water supply and flood mitigation. The sixth chapter chronicles the City Water Works bizarre fears of contamination of the Glenmore Reservoir water supply from the increasing demands to use the river for recreational purposes like playgrounds and parks from the 1930 to 1946.

The final chapter Post-War Calgary and The Elbow River: 1947-2017 focuses on the inability of the river to supply enough water for the increasing demands of the city, on the building of the Glenmore Park, and on the increased concerns of new flooding with mention of the 2005 and 2013 historic floods. Notably lacking in the revised edition of the book, are the trials and tribulations surrounding the building of the southwest ring road over the Elbow River and through the wetlands that was finally approved in 2016. The crossing that is planned under-went many revisions and alternatives over the last couple of decades and it continues to cause conflict between the needs of the citizens of Calgary to maintain natural recreational areas along the Elbow River Valley Corridor with increased transportation needs for a growing city.


Wed, April 11, 7 pm, Memorial Building, 3625 - 4 Street SW
Public, Free Admission
Topic: Story telling based on the book, She Made Them Family: A Wartime Scrapbook from the Prairies.
Featuring Anne Gafiuk

Anne will join us for an evening of storytelling based on her book, She Made Them Family: A Wartime Scrapbook from the Prairies. It is a collection of letters, book covers, photos, anecdotes, magazine and newspaper clippings from The Second World War compiled by Mrs. Alice Spackman, Okotoks, Alberta.

Shelley McElroy from SAPD sat down with Anne to talk about her life as a writer and to get a preview of what people can look forward to at her talk on April 11, 2018!

SAPD: She Made Them Family is about a woman from Southern Alberta who documented the lives and adventures of her whole community, which was worldwide by the end of the book! You'll be at the Southern Alberta Pioneers to tell us more about it in April. What can people look forward to?

Anne: Alice Spackman was a young woman who came to Alberta in 1913, looking for a bit of an adventure, teaching in a one room-school house. I will share some of her life story, how her family took part in WWII, and how she and her husband opened their home to young men and women also served Canada and the British Commonwealth during the Second World War. Mrs. Spackman left a legacy, as did other women in Okotoks and area. I will also share some of their stories.

SAPD: What inspires you? How do you find stories that you love and want to tell?

Anne: I do not go looking for the stories; they seem to find me! Serendipity? Fate? Being in the right place at the right time? All the above! My curiosity is often piqued when someone I am talking to tells me a story. Often they have questions they do not have the answers to and that inspires me to go looking. A person will say, "I know someone who you should talk to." I visit with them and they, in turn, suggest I speak to others. And the cycle continues, often taking me to Ottawa, the library and archives to delve into files where I find more stories.