“Placing Memory” Oral History Project

First Street SW in High River, with CIBC, Currie’s Rexall Drug Store, Hi-Alta Agencies, Quon’s Grocery, the New Look Café, Scott Ellis Men’s Wear, and Johnson’s Jewellery. Photo (MH975.043.014) courtesy Museum of the Highwood.

“Placing Memory in High River’s Built Environment” is an oral history research project I’ve been directing in High River since 2015. It is a partnership between the Ambrose University history program (Calgary), the Museum of the Highwood (High River), the High River Centennial Library, and local volunteers. It is also funded by a grant ($10,780) from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation.

Starting in the fall of 2015, Ambrose University students and local volunteers began conducting oral history interviews with various members of the High River community, focusing on life in the town between the 1930s and 1980s. The aim of the project is to discover the relationship between particular places (buildings, parks, streets, etc.) and the memories of High River residents. We want to document the places that were important in the history and–perhaps more importantly–the identity of High River and the life of the local community.

So far we have over thirty interviews! We are continuing the interview process through 2017. Interviews are relaxed, and there’s no pressure to remember specific details about times, places, or events. Rather, we want to hear your stories about what life in High River used to be like (1930s to 1980s). Did you work in a downtown business? Go on a first date at the Wales Theatre? Sing in a church choir? Ride your bike around town after school? March in a parade? Participate in a club at the Scout Hall? The possibilities are endless.
What are your favourite places in High River? What makes them special? Please come tell us about it.

Find Out More

For more on the project, check out our story in the Ambrose University Anthem magazine or read a March 2016 update or the June 2016 paper I presented at the Organization of Military Museums of Canada conference.

Get Involved!

To arrange an interview, please contact Kyle Jantzen (Ambrose University) at 403-410-2000 (ext. 6902) or kjantzen@ambrose.edu or leave your name and contact information (phone or e-mail) with staff at the High River Centennial Library or the Museum of the Highwood.