To promote and publish historical works, develop educational and programming activities related to Alberta history and foster social and fundraising activities to encourage membership in the Society and the performance of its objects.
The formation of the Central Alberta branch of the Historical Society of Alberta on January 26, 1995, at the Red Deer and District Museum and Archives, was the culmination of correspondence with the Historical Society and the preliminary plans made by a steering committee chaired by Allan Armstrong.
The founding executive of the new chapter, with members from Bowden, Heisler, Sylvan Lake and Red Deer, consisted of President Allan Armstrong, Vice President Florence Edginton, Secretary Morris Flewwelling, Treasurer Bill Bolze and Directors Jean Bridge, Amy von Heyking, George Braithwaite, Kevin Majeau, Ron Williams, Dr. Robert Lampard, and Gordon Caton.
The geographical boundaries of the Central Alberta Historical Society are Ponoka to the north, Olds to the south, and the provincial boundaries to the east and west.
The CAHS focusses on local and Alberta history and tries to present a well rounded roster of topics.
Our first year’s programs included Uta Fox and Jennifer Pettit on the “Red Deer Industrial School”; the October Women’s History Month program on the “Role of Women in the Community and Province” featuring lecturers Nancy Millar, Catherine Cooper-Cole, Amy von Heyking, and Alexis Soltice; the Allard family on “Metis Culture”; Archivist Michael Dawe on “Debt and Depression”; and Ken Aldritt, Past Executive Director of the Alberta Land Surveyors, on “Early Land Surveyors.” An admission fee of $5 was charged for these early programs. Admission today is free.
The first program committee consisted of Don Hepburn, Alexis Soltice and Gerry Beauchamp. Soon Beauchamp and Hepburn became the Program Committee, with responsibility for tours as well. Nine monthly programs have become the norm, with the September program featuring an afternoon bus tour following the Annual General Meeting, and a special program at Christmas which includes a banquet but no business meeting. Programs over the years have represented popular, academic, reminiscent, and social themes in no particular order or proportion. Don Hepburn instituted the practice of surveying the membership for program ideas for the coming year.
An integral part of the CAHS identity is its highly successful series of annual spring bus tours, originally organized and directed by Terry and Gerry Beauchamp and Joan and Don Hepburn. The tours have been recognized as a determinant in the growth of CAHS for not only did they bring in money but the enthusiasm generated by the tours enticed many to become members.
In April of 1995 Gerry Beauchamp agreed to help Kevin Majeau on a committee to organize tours, and an exploratory meeting was set up. The first tour, titled Louis Riel:100 Years After explored sites connected to the Northwest Rebellion. This was a highly successful tour, precursor to many good tours to come.
Our most recent tour, in May of 2016 was a day trip to the Breton Museum and the Breton Plots. This trip was inspired by Museum director Allan Goddard, one of our 2015 guest speakers, whose topic was the distinctive Black history of Alberta and specifically the Keystone settlement near what is now Breton. Also at Breton is an ongoing agricultural project, that provides a model of how diverse cropping practices affect the typical regional soils. The tour was organized by Sheila Bannerman and hosted by Bill MacKay, and supported by local businesses Marissa’s Restaurant (Winfield) and the Big Tee Golf Resort (Breton).
Historical Society of Alberta’s AGMs
CAHS has hosted three History of Alberta Society‘s AGMs. The 1996 AGM, Planes, Trains and Automobiles; the 2000 AGM, People and Place; and the 2003 AGM, Rivers to Rails and will again in 2013 along with City of Red Deer’s Centennial.