Fonds 0178 - Jim Somerville fonds

George Hill, Picket Man 20th Base Camp - 1905 Survey Party Survey Party Two Surveyors Anderson and Wagon Survey Crew Survey Camp Survey Camp Survey Camp Survey Camp
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Title proper

Jim Somerville fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

Parallel title

James Somerville fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.

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Reference code

CA GPR 0178

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Physical description area

Physical description

3 cm of textual records
63 photographs
5 postcards

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Name of creator


Biographical history

James Somerville (Jim) was born in Hawksville, Ontario in 1882. In 1900 he moved west to Manitoba, and later continued on to Viking, a community in Southern Alberta. Here Jim homesteaded from 1904 to 1910. Jim worked for many survey crews in the Peace Country. In 1904 he came to Grande Prairie with surveyor J.B. St.Cyr. A year later, 1905, he was the packer in charge of the horse train for Henry Selby's survey crew when they re-surveyed the sixth meridian from the 18th base line to Peace River. The crew came back via the Grande Prairie and Bezanson, and re-surveyed the eighteenth baseline from west of the sixth to Vallyview. From 1909 to 1911 Jim worked in Walter McFarlane's crew which was surveying out sections and quarter sections in anticipation of settlement. In 1910 McFarlane's crew surveyed the Rio Grande area, and in 1911 it surveyed the Pouce Coupe, Dawson Creek and Rolla districts. In 1911 Jim moved to Grande Prairie and settled on the south Buffalo Lake. He married Eva Woolston in 1927. Eva was born in Sandy, England in 1894, had done war service as a nurse for St. John's Ambulance during World War I, and was visiting a friend (Mrs. Brebucks) in Canada when she met Jim. She had a lovely voice and sang for community events as well as for the soldiers during World War II. Eva and Jim had two children: Daniel and Rosemary (Smith). They lived on their Buffalo Lakes farm unitl Jim died in 1971. Eva passed away three years later in 1974.

Custodial history

Copies of the original photographs were deposited in South Peace Regional Archives by Dan Somerville, son of James Somerville, in 2005 and an accrual of paper artefacts was deposited in 2009.

Scope and content

The Jim Somerville collection follows his career as a surveyor in the Peace region, and his life as a homesteader. The first series of photographs is from Henry Selby's 1905 survey of the 20th base line west of the fifth meridian. The photographs show the environment of the area east of the Smoky River, the activities of his survey crew, and the life of a surveyor. There are also several photographs of buildings in Grouard and Stopping Places in the area. From 1909 to 1911 Jim Somerville worked as a packer in Walter McFarlane's survey crew. The photographs from this series show the environment of the land which was surveyed and the life of the surveyors at work. The regions which were covered stretch from Edmonton to Fort St. John, B.C. The last series of photographs show Jim's life as a homesteader in southern Alberta and the Peace Country.
An accrual of paper records include a Riley & McCormick cowboy equipment catalogue (1925); 6 small booklets recording activities and purchases (1912-1948), bank account (1926-1944), and a diary (1927); land tax documents(1920-1932),a notice of caveat (1949); gasoline ration coupons (1943), correspondence concerning the Buffalo Lakes Swine Improvement Association and a letter from J.B. Oliver; 4 personal cards, 2 pages of accounts with R.G. Maclean, assorted financial records (1913-1948), and a Buffalo Lakes newspaper article

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Copies of the original photographs were deposited in South Peace Regional Archives by Dan Somerville, son of James Somerville, in 2005 and an accrual of paper artefacts was deposited in 2009.


Language of material

  • The material is in English.

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Negatives and digitized copies of the photographs exist.

Restrictions on access

There are no restrictions on access.

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No accruals are expected.

Alpha-numeric designations

Accession numbers: 2005.027; 2009.50

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South Peace Regional Archives

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Language of description

  • English

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