Alberta history and the Edmonton Journal walk into an Archives…


You’ve never heard this one before? Weird…

Anyway, let me ask you, what does Alberta’s history and local comics have in common? As it turns out, a lot!

Alberta has a rich and diverse history with many stories waiting to be told. Whether it’s learning about Canada’s deadliest rock slide that took place in southern Alberta in 1903 or about the oldest building still standing in the province, the stories of our past are wide ranging.

In many ways, Alberta Culture and Tourism is a guardian of our history. The ministry’s Heritage Division is responsible for 20 provincially owned and operated historic sites, museums and the Provincial Archives of Alberta that preserve, protect and share Alberta’s stories. Working in tandem with other heritage organizations and individuals, the division also ensures the protection and conservation of various heritage resources such as historical buildings.

It’s no surprise then why local comic artist Chad Huculak of the Edmonton Journal thought of Alberta Culture and Tourism as a resource to help him create a comic depicting some of Alberta’s history in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.

“I wanted to go through an official channel for this project and have professionals help me out,” says Chad. “In the newsroom, we began to brainstorm some ideas and moments in Alberta’s history but knew we needed some help.”

Comic Strip

Image courtesy of the Edmonton Journal

Chad was put in touch with the Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA) and worked with seasoned archivist Tom Anderson to sift through pieces of Alberta’s past.

Celebrating 50 years of operation, the PAA provides public access to Alberta’s historical records of all kinds including government records, private records, maps, photographs, audio, film, video and much more.

Chad soon realized that in addition to learning about Alberta’s history, he was actually experiencing it right there in the Archives.

“I was very impressed. Alberta’s history is a lot more varied than I thought,” says Chad. “For me to hold a personal document and letter in my hand…it created this connection. You can’t get that same feeling by Googling something.”


Image courtesy of the Edmonton Journal

Using his learnings from the PAA, Chad had enough inspiration to create this comic that ran in the Edmonton Journal in honour of Canada Day.

“The Hillcrest Mine disaster was pretty interesting to me in how it gathered world-wide attention because people died so tragically,” he said. “It’s a part of our history I think people should know more about.”

Chad will likely find his way back to the Provincial Archives sometime soon to explore even more of the collections and he encourages other Albertans to do the same.

“The help at the Archives was incredible,” he says. “It’s not nearly as boring as you would think. I couldn’t believe how many vaults and how many records they have. It’s good to know who you are, where you came from and get a sense of where you’re going…the Archives does that.”

Take your own adventure to discover the PAA and all it has to offer including the newest exhibit, 150 Firsts: How Alberta Changed Canada…Forever, full of Canadian firsts that were done by Albertans.

Stay in touch with the Provincial Archives of Alberta on Facebook and Twitter to see images from its vaults and learn about upcoming events. You can also visit the website to learn how you can donate records to the PAA or how to preserve personal records at home.

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