Mary Nutting, the founding Executive Director of the South Peace Regional Archives, passed away on Monday, April 20, after a two-year battle with breast cancer. She was 67.
Nutting discovered her passion for history after spending a year in England and subsequently discovering the rich history of the Peace Region. After several years of volunteering at the Grande Prairie Museum, she completed an initial survey to identify the locations of archival records of the South Peace. In 2000, she became the founding Executive Director of the South Peace Regional Archives, where she worked for the next 17 years.
One of Nutting’s great passions was connecting people to their history. She enjoyed exploring the family collections and helping people in their “treasure hunts” through the Archives. Mary once shared this particularly memorable encounter: “Not long after the Archives opened in 2000, I received a request to view a particular diary. The visitor was the grand-daughter of the author and had never seen the diary in question. She smiled at me as I handed her the file, but then an amazing thing happened. As her hand touched the cover of the diary, the tears began to stream down her face. She was not just reading about an historical event, but touching her grand-mother in this document that had been so personal to her at a memorable and difficult time. It surprised us both, I think.”
Among her proudest achievements was authoring and contributing to numerous historical publications, including Olwen’s Scrapbook: A Journey to the Peace Country in 1933 and A Grande Education: 100 Schools in the County of Grande Prairie,1910-1960. Her contributions to preserving local history were recognized by numerous awards through the years.
She once said of her work in the Archives: “The South Peace Regional Archives are all about time. The time that has passed, the time that keeps on passing, but also the time that is given to all of us to create a future for that past time.”
Funeral was held on Friday, April 24, in Grande Prairie.
“Mary’s time with the Archives created a legacy that will endure for generations. Her tireless work to preserve our region’s history profoundly impacted our organization, and so many others. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her, and her impact will be felt by countless others,” an announcement from the Archives said.