by Sam McBride

I was recently interviewed for the Go Kootenays community TV show about family history in general, and the West Kootenay Family Historians Society in particular.

The reporter came to my home in Castlegar, and got video shots of some of the paintings, photos, letters and other memorabilia that was safely stored for many years by my grandmother and then my mother, and has been passed on to me.  The show can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsnVAac4SlM or http://shaw.ca/ShawTV/Cranbrook/ShawTV/

Most of the material shown came from two great-uncles: the Hon. Edgar Dewdney, who was a major figure in Western Canada political history in the 19th century (and is best known in the Kootenay region as the builder in the 1860s of the Dewdney Trail from Hope across several mountain ranges to Wild Horse Creek near the current site of Cranbrook); and Frederic Thornton Peters, the subject of my book “The Bravest Canadian — Fritz Peters VC: The Making of a Hero of Two World Wars”.   The file of original letters shown in the footage is part of the collection of letters home that were of central importance in telling Fritz’s story.   The Christmas card with the image of the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Meteor was sent home by Fritz in Christmas 1914 while he was serving as first officer on Meteor.   Just a month later, on January 24, 1915, Fritz earned a Distinguished Service Order medal for heroism in saving lives after the engine room of Meteor was hit by a German shell.  The photograph under glass in an antique frame of a lady in the video is of Mary Cunard, who was eldest daughter of the Cunard Steamship Lines founder Sir Samuel Cunard, and mother of Frederick Peters, Fritz’s father.

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The top hat displayed in the TV report, along with its customized leather bucket that has enabled the hat to remain in good condition for more than a century. The story in the family was that the hat was owned and worn by the Hon. Edgar Dewdney, while he served as Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia in the 1890s

edgar painting 2

Original portrait of Edgar Dewdney, painted in about 1884 when he was Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories, based in Regina.  He was uncle and legal guardian of Ted Dewdney, who married Fritz’s sister Helen Peters in 1912.

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Envelope used for letter Fritz Peters sent to his mother Bertha in 1916 when she was staying with her sister Florence Gray Poole In Guildford, England

page 1 and 4 of 1916 letter from Fritz

The first and fourth panels of 1916 letter from Fritz to his mother.

front of 1914 Christmas card

front of 1914 Christmas card shown in the video

inside of meteor xmas card 001

inside of 1914 Christmas card with image of HMS Meteor. It is signed by Fritz, but with a joke nickname “Mangle Jangle”

side of mary cunard

Photo of Fritz’s paternal grandmother Mary Cunard in original frame, featured in the Go Kootenays TV show. Below, close-up of Mary Cunard.

mary cunard jpg

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