The Fort McMurray Branch was developed from the Fort McMurray Genealogy Study Group originating in 1983. The seed was planted by Lyn Meehan placing posters of her 4-year old father on bulletin boards at downtown grocery stores, at the public library and placed an advertisement in the local Fort McMurray Today. Irregular meetings were first held in member’s homes. Charter members were Lyn Meehan, Etta Walker, Patricia Marlow, Lois MacGougan-Nixon and Lynn Irwin as our first librarian with collection development and retention in the basement of her two-story home on Manning Avenue.
On 25 June 1984, the group became too large to meet in homes. This is when 14 people started meeting in the multi-purpose room of the Fort McMurray Public Library having the same interest—genealogy. Individuals pooled together their resources, donated books, etc. and avoided the idea of bureaucracy and dues.
In July 1984, official Officers were appointed. Lyn K. Meehan was the very first President. At the same time the group began looking at joining the Alberta Genealogical Society as a branch.
The group continued meeting where, and when they could. They held bake sales and garage sales, and applied for Civic Grants when able. Individual members gave presentations on various subjects and on research topics they knew particularly well. They attended cultural and hobby shows, even the occasional AGS GenFair and anywhere else to set up a display table and express their knowledge to entice new members. The first genealogical seminar held in Fort McMurray was in 1987 on the "British Isles" encouraging others—including Margo Moffatt, to join the small study group. Others who have sustained long-term membership are Sheila Hale, Laverne Cormier and Patricia Dobson and saw a great deal of change. Their contributions to the group have been monumental and invaluable.
After a few years of mulling the idea in becoming part of AGS, it became reality in January of 1988 when the AGS Executive welcomed the Fort McMurray Study Group as a formal branch of the AGS.
Memories of Lyn Meehan and Tammy Grantham; John Althouse, History of the Alberta Genealogical Society (Edmonton, AB: AGS, 2013), pp. 125-139.
Photos appearing on the Fort McMurray—home webpage (top, L to R):
"View of street showing the Franklin Hotel and a drugs store." Also known as "Gateway to the MacKenzie," 1922. 1 postcard : b&w ; 9 x 14 cm. Image courtesy of Peel's Prairie Provinces (website), a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries. Image PC-012193 “Fort McMurray”.
“Colin Fraser, trader at Fort Chipewyan (Alberta), sorts fox, beaver, mink & other precious furs,” 1890s. Part of the Ernest Brown Collection. Photos by C.W. Mathers and Ernest Brown. Copyright expired in Canada. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, C-001229.
“Hudson Bay Company (HBC) Steamer Athabasca River at dock at Fort McMurray, on the Athabasca River, Alberta.” Photograph: Canada. Dept. of Interior. Copyright expired in Canada. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, PA-046112.
Photos appearing on the Fort McMurray—History webpage (top):
"Waterways, Alta. CANADA. Bird's eye view of a commercial street in town with stores and shops along the left side." c.1940s. 1 postcard : b&w ; 9 x 14 cm. Photographer: Sutherland's Pharmacy. Image courtesy of Peel's Prairie Provinces (website), a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries. Image PC-005215 “Waterways, Alta.”