Author Tags: Local History, Photography
Donald Pettit's collection of archival photos in The Peace: A History in Photographs (Sandhill) tied for a gold award in the IPPY book prizes for Best Regional Book, Western Canada, and also received an Honorable Mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Prizes in the Art category.
"This book was a large and complex project," says Pettit. "But I had lots of help. The very talented Barbara Swail contributed the beautiful maps and illustrations, editing and much good advice; the late Gerry Clare of the South Peace Historical Society Archive in Dawson Creek was my guide and mentor throughout. David Leonard, former provincial archivist of Alberta, was historical editor and kind enough to write the foreword.
"It’s a sad fact that for many people who have not traveled to the north, the concept of the Peace River Region draws a blank in terms of its landscape, climate and history. It’s a region that must be seen - to be appreciated. As big as California, the Peace region is bounded in the west by rugged Rocky Mountain wilderness, - in the east by fertile prairie farmland, stretching to a limitless horizon. Across its width stretches one of North America’s great rivers, the mighty Peace River - 2000 kilometres long. It’s been my goal as a photographer, publisher and filmmaker to bring the story and beauty of the Peace to a wider audience.
"Sometimes history can seem like an accident of fate. I was lucky enough to discover one of those. One hundred years ago, George Eastman released the world’s first easy to use, affordable camera. At the same time, the settlement of the Peace River Region really took off, - it was the last great land rush in North America. The last true pioneers on the continent were the first to photograph an event of global historical significance.
"I discovered this surprising fact during my three-year journey around the Peace looking for photos for the book, - and did I find photos – literally tens of thousands of beautiful black and white prints.
I discovered that these early settlers recorded important public events, of course, - but mostly - they documented more personal things: births and deaths, first homes of sod and log, first harvests, community, and family gatherings. We see faces exhausted by tragedy, glowing with triumph, shining with hope and pride. These are the pictures that fill my book, and they are what make it, I think, so compelling and so unique.
"When you look into their eyes, you can feel them looking back. And one can’t help reflecting; what world are WE building for OUR descendents?
"History shows us where we are going - in light of where we have been, - and that can only help us as we shape the world for future generations. I hope my book will give us another glimpse of a past - that will inspire us to build a better future."
According to David W. Leonard, Northern Alberta Historian for Alberta Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture, and former Provincial Archivist of Alberta, Donald A Pettit's “The Peace: a history in photographs reveals the history of the Peace River Country in a way no textual history can. Utilizing many hitherto unpublished images from the region's archives, Don uses his critical photographer's eye to select only those of exceptional quality with something unique to say. The work focuses on aspects of our past, rather than inundate the viewer with all the details of it. It reveals what a diversity of circumstances our ancestors encountered. Long forgotten scenes can be relived and studied, and a feeling of Peace Country community reinforced.”
Published by Peace photoGraphics Inc • 1204–103rd Ave., Dawson Creek, BC V1G 2G9
Hardcover; 10.5w x 12h; 288 pages; Duo-tone photographs; Metalic Gold Embossed Dust Jacket; ISBN 978-0-9736678-4-4
+ GST & Shipping and Handling