By Joëlle Sévigny - Program & Education Manager
This last Saturday afternoon, I made my way to Stewart Alsgard's home to receive a new donation on behalf of the museum (fyi: we currently have a moratorium on object collecting, but this does not include archival material). Doug Mobley, volunteer at the museum and a friend of Stewart's, was also invited to join for this chat back down memory lane.
Over the next hour, Stewart proceeded to share with us the various items that make up his father's, Al Alsgard collection, as well as the stories connected to them. This collection of archival material that Stewart has begun donating to the museum, will eventually become an archival fond. For those of you who might be new to museum lingo, an archival fond is a group of documents that have been naturally accumulated over time by an individual or organization. In this instance, it will become the Alsgard Family Fonds.
The incredible documents in this donation gives a glimpse into the busy life of Al, who's story is significant to the history of Powell River. Al Alsgard was born in Alberta in 1909. In his early twenties, he came to Powell River and settled in Cranberry. There he opened Alsgard's Hardware Store and also worked in the mill. In 1925, in the attic of his house on Church Street, he began printing the first editions of the Town Crier newspaper on mimeographs. A mimeograph, also called a stencil duplicator, is a low cost duplicating machine that operates by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper. His son, Stewart and his friends, would then deliver the newspapers to the different neighborhoods.
Al's newspaper business flourished and he bought out his competitor, the Powell River News founded by Tommy Green. Al also became President of both the Canadian Weekly Newspaper Association (CWNA) and the British Columbia Weekly Newspaper Association (BWNA). On top of the Powell River News, he operated other newspapers like the Peninsula Times, distributed on the lower Sunshine Coast. Al and his team received many awards throughout the years for their quality newspapers.
Overall, I collected three boxes worth of items that speak to this story, ready to be accessioned into the museum's collection (accessioning is the formal act of legally accepting items into a museum's collection). The boxes include items like scrapbooks with various newspaper clippings, poetry publications from the Town Crier, CWNA & BWNA board agendas and minutes, ephemeral items like programs, tickets, schedules etc. There is also other interesting items like a Powell River Welcome Package. On top of that, they are sweet items like family pictures and many other photographs taken by Al Alsgard. These boxes are truly a treasure trove! Stewart assures me that there is more to come....
To learn more about this story, check out our Fall 2021 Speaker Series talk with guest speakers Stewart Alsgard and Doug Mobley, called "A Newspaper Story."