August 21, 2016 11:34 am

Alberta woman’s historic diary celebrates early homestead life

A new exhibit at the Provincial Archives of Alberta features the diary of one of Alberta's early settlers.

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The trials and tribulations of homestead life in Alberta have come alive in the diary pages of one of the province’s early settler women.

The century-old diary of Alda Dale Randall, whose family settled near High Prairie in the early 1920s, has been turned into a work of art now on display at the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

Local artist and former Provincial Archives of Alberta archivist Marlena Wyman created the exhibit.

“I wanted to have the archival element being just as important as the artistic element. So I was searching for settler women’s dairies and letters – what I usually find inspiration from. I was going to use several women, but Dale’s story spoke to me so strongly that the entire exhibit had to be dedicated to her,” Wyman said.

Pages from Dale Randell’s diary are featured in the exhibit.

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Randall kept a diary documenting the highs and lows of making and creating a home on the Alberta prairie which inspired Wyman’s exhibit. She created a mixed media exhibit which includes paintings and images based on different pages of the diary. The exhibit also includes several photos from the diary.

“I’m looking at a diary that someone has handwritten- you get a feeling for that person and connection that you wouldn’t get if they were a digitized record,” she added.

“I think with any homestead story, it’s pretty rough at the beginning having to go to a piece of land, clear it and build a home,” Leslie Latta, executive director of the Provincial Archives said. “The first few years or even the first decade can be pretty rough, but within time the grandmother and mother created things within the community that were very important like the library, or the museum.”

Wyman said early settler women were often the community builders and those stories need to be told.

“We should not undervalue our records,” she said. “Women were often the community builders. Women were the ones that got the churches going, did the charity work, got the schools going and on the social occasions, they got the community together and those are very important records.”

“When she found this resource of this one diary that was just explosive with energy – she decided to use that for the whole exhibit,” Latta said. “It tells {the story} of these women during the 1920s and her life as an early homesteader and creating a space for her family to live here in High Prairie, Alberta.”

Many of Randall’s family members were on hand for the unveiling Saturday.

The exhibit will be on display at the Provincial Archives until Aug. 24.

A new exhibit at the Provincial Archives of Alberta features the diary of one of Alberta’s early settlers.

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