Fonds 0050 - Grande Prairie Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce fonds

Elevator Row, Grande Prairie St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Grande Prairie Tissington Industries Manufacturing Plant, Grande Prairie Airport Liberty Airways Hangar and Airplanes, Grande Prairie Airport Grande Prairie Police Station, Grande Prairie Northern Alberta Dairy Pool, Grande Prairie Richmond Avenue, Grande Prairie CP Air Airplane, Grande Prairie Airport Central Fire Station, Grande Prairie Gravel Supplier, Grande Prairie
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Grande Prairie Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce fonds

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CA GPR 0050

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5.58 m of textual records
1833 photographs
18 maps
1 video recording

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Administrative history

It was 1914, the same year that the village of Grande Prairie was incorporated, when talk about organizing a Board of Trade began. The Grande Prairie Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in 1915, when the population of the village was just over 100 people. This was before there were any roads or trains into the Peace Country, and the only means of access into the area, for people and supplies, was via Pioneer Trail. It was registered for a certificate as the Grande Prairie Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce in 1919. The purpose of the Board of Trade was to promote the Grande Prairie district as an excellent place to live, farm, do business and develop resources. The issues which rose out of this purpose were the need for improved roads and highways; affordable railroad freight rates and adequate railway services and facilities; airports and commercial airlines; appropriate immigration, agricultural and economic policies; a good education system; services such as water and sewer, telephone, radio and television; resource and industrial development; and support for the business community. From its inception, the Board of Trade had a high profile in south Peace communities. Monthly meetings were covered in detail by the press, and the President's Ball and Annual Meeting was one of the social events of the year. The Board was immediately active in associations with other provincial and Canadian Boards of Trade and worked jointly with political and labour groups to achieve common goals. Sending delegates to Edmonton or Ottawa and sending resolutions to provincial or federal governments were common tactics which achieved results. The Board of Trade made use of monthly and annual meetings to bring in interesting or high profile speakers who drew large crowds. It also initiated or participated in visits by V.I.P.s who could make a difference: premiers, prime ministers or governor-generals; government officials, MLAs , MPs or High Commissioners; railroad presidents, business magnates or filming crews; and parties from provincial and federal Boards of Trade. Each visit and speaker drew added attention to issues in the Peace Country. Promotional Literature was a key function of the Board of Trade. The first booklet, Grande Prairie and the Peace River District, was printed in 1920 and distributed throughout all Grande Prairie and the Peace River District, was printed in 1920 and distributed throughout all English speaking countries. By 1921, regular issues of "The Board of Trade Gazette" were being printed by the Grande Prairie Herald. This was the beginning of a long standing relationship between the two organizations which continues in the present. The Board also staged promotional entertainment events such as summer sports and rodeos, and winter carnivals. During the Depression and World War II, membership and the activities of the Board decreased, but a core group kept up pressure on all levels of government as immigration to the area increased and the need for affordable services and transportation of people and products was even more important. The Monkman Highway Project, a road built through the Rocky Mountains by volunteer labour, was supported by Peace Country and British Columbia Boards of Trade alike. The Board expanded into areas of direct intervention, such as the establishment of a flour mill in Grande Prairie in 1935, and protests regarding the closing of banks. Air Shelters and war-time policies occupied much of their time during the war, but already the Board was focused on regaining the momentum that had propelled them before the depression. After the war the Junior Chamber of Commerce was formed, and the two groups became more involved in the appearance-cleanliness and beautification-of the town. Town Planning for commercial, industrial and residential districts became important. In 1952, the name of the Grande Prairie Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce was officially changed to the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce. Surveys and economic development reports were now being produced by various levels of government and quasi-governmental organizations, and the Chamber turned its attentions to more specific programs in the community of Grande Prairie--to urban planning and parks, resource and industry conferences, retail surveys, business and industry trade fairs, employment programs, tourism, and events which heightened the city's profile. The Grande Prairie Air Shows in the 70s and the National Hot Air Balloon Championships in 1979 are examples of such events. Two themes which ran throughout the Chamber's history were transportation and political action. In the isolated Peace Country, transportation was always a major issue. In 1958 the Chamber began to pressure the Alberta Government regarding a Peace Country route for the Great Slave Lake Railway, as well as the creation of Highway 40 South, a project which did not see completion until 1992. Briefs and submissions continued to flow to various levels of government and business, and forums were offered to the citizens so that their voices would also be heard. Industry and Employment were high priority items, and the Chamber began taking surveys to determine the direction and results of their policies. They lobbied federal and provincial governments for support of the construction industry through the Central Mortgage and Housing in the early 50s, an Oil Refinery in 1952 and a Federal Penitentiary in 1955. In 1974, the Chamber began to operate Hire-A-Student during the summer months to increase employment for students during the summer months. As industry assumed a larger and larger portion of the local economy, the Chamber focused more attention on industrial expansion. In 1960, they sponsored the first Northwest Resources Conference, and in 1971, established an Industrial Development Commission with cooperation from the City and County of Grande Prairie. Eventually this became the Economic Development Commission. One of the most noticeable changes in focus was tourism. Increased American traffic on the Alaska Highway soon after World War II caught the attention of the Chamber. Here was a viable new industry for the north. The Trumpeter Swan, once almost extinct, became a symbol for the area-both City and County incorporated the swan in their logos-and the Chamber adopted it as well. A large swan statue was placed in Jubilee Park, and a swimming swan floated on Bear Creek Reservoir. Two side-arms of the tourism industry were the Convention Bureau, which organized large functions for the Chamber and promoted conventions held in Grande Prairie, and the Trade Fair and Trade Dollar Program. These programs showcased local businesses while attracting "business" tourists into the City. Publications by the Chamber shifted from economic analysis to tourism based, and soon a "Visitors' Guide" was being published regularly. The history of the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce closely parallels the development of "Grande Prairie City." As the City grew, so did the Chamber. In 1968, a new Chamber building was built under an agreement with the City of Grande Prairie. In 1973, the Tourist Information Centre on the highway by-pass was added to serve a rapidly growing tourist industry. As the city developed into the regional center of the Peace Country, there was growing pressure for a larger, more modern facility. In the year 2000, a combined facility was constructed to accommodate Chamber offices, Alberta Tourism, a community wing and a museum showcasing the Peace Country. Center 2000 is the present home of the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce.

Custodial history

The records were deposited in the Grande Prairie Regional Archives by the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce in 2000.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of executive and administrative records; subject files from both the Board of Trade and the later Chamber of Commerce; briefs, submissions and forums presented to various groups and government departments; project files from the time Grande Prairie achieved cityhood until the 90s; publications about the area produced or collected by the Board of Trade/Chamber of Commerce; reference files with news clippings and guest books that detail the history of the Board from 1914 on; information about associated organizations; and photograph and slide collections. The photograph collection mainly details progress in the Grande Prairie area from 1905 to 1980, and the activities of the Chamber after 1975. There is one reel to reel film, “Alberta on the North Side,” which was presented to the people of Northern Alberta on the occasion of the provincial cabinet meeting in Grande Prairie, October 17, 1972.

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The records were deposited in the Grande Prairie Regional Archives by the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce in 2000.


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Accession number: 2000.34

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South Peace Regional Archives

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  • English

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