Red Deer history buff explores digital archives to share old memories and create new ones

CBC Edmonton and CBC Calgary have teamed up to launch a pop-up office in Red Deer to help us tell your stories of central Alberta. Journalist Heather Marcoux will bring you news from Red Deer and the surrounding area. Ideas for articles and tips can be sent to [email protected].

Red Deer citizens past and present come together to remember the city as it was, thanks to a pandemic project by an Alberta history buff.

Ken Meintzer, who lived in Red Deer in the 1990s, started a Facebook group called Memories of Red Deer and Central Alberta in December, where he shared archival photos and newspaper clippings.

“Five months later, we’re just over 7,300 members and we’re growing like a weed,” said Meintzer, who lives just down from QE2 in Airdrie, Alta.

Meintzer had been part of a similar group for Lethbridge, but he says it’s much easier to find images for the Red Deer page, thanks to the city’s comprehensive digital archive.

Red Deer historian Michael Dawe, who served as the city archivist until 2009, deserves credit for helping preserve a wealth of information about the city’s clubs, churches and archives, said Meintzer.

Ken Meintzer is the Alberta history buff who started the Facebook group in December. (Ken Meintzer)

The city also digitized decades of television video from RDTV, later known as CHCA. Meintzer worked at RDTV from 1993 to 2000.

While he is delighted to have so many free content, Meintzer said it was sad that no TV footage existed after 2009, when the station closed.

“The TV station has become a bit of a columnist, like all media – newspapers, radio stations. Each media becomes the chronicler of this story. So when you lose visual media like TV in town, you lose that ability. to bring this story together. ”

‘A game of skill’

The keyword searches Meintzer uses to browse the archives led him to uncover some interesting “rabbit holes”.

“The search function is a bit more of a skill game,” he said.

A search on the surname “Bower” led him to Red Deer Bower Ponds and how a historic monument, the Cronquist House, was moved there in the 1970s after being saved from demolition.

Alicia Tulp learned more about her late father after joining a Facebook group nostalgic for Red Deer. (Heather Marcoux / CBC News)

The eight-bedroom Victorian-style farmhouse was built in 1911, a booming period in the years before Red Deer was incorporated as a city.

Places and people

The group is also a hub for sharing stories that connect long lost loved ones or remember people from the community’s past.

Alicia Tulp is grateful for the newspaper clippings, photographs and certificates that recorded her father’s life in Red Deer.

Ray Tulp was somewhat of a Renaissance man, who loved motorcycles, singing in a choir, and nature photography. He began his professional life as a ticket trader before studying education at Red Deer College, then teaching at several schools in the area.

When her daughter saw her name mentioned on the Facebook group, she posted photos and invited the Red Deerians to share memories of her father.

This is how Tulp learned that his science teacher father was well known for his demonstrations on exothermic reactions.

Alicia Tulp treasures newspaper photographs and family albums that chronicle her father’s life in Red Deer. (Alicia Tulp)

“There was a story about how in November there was another snowfall. And he brought all ninth grades with the other teachers, ”Tulp said.

After his father made everyone wear safety glasses, he threw a piece of potassium in the snow.

“My dad was laughing and then all of a sudden, bam! There was an explosion. And then a few seconds later, bam! There was another explosion.”

Meintzer says stories like Tulp’s are heartwarming.

“It’s very satisfying for me, as the person who brought it all together.”

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