Fonds PR2012 - John Prest fonds

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John Prest fonds

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    • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the records.

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    • [ca. 1922 – 1924] (Creation)

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    Physical description

    16 photographs

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    Name of creator


    Biographical history

    John (Jack) Prest was born in Richmond Surrey, England on February 17th 1880. He was the oldest of four boys, John, William, James (Ben) and Frederick.

    John and Frederick arrived in Canada in the Spring of 1903 and traveled to the Wetaskwin area where they took up farming on the northwest side of Maskwacis. Their brothers William and Ben joined them in May 1904, with their parents arriving in August. It was short-term before they gave up farming and sought employment in Edmonton.

    John obtained work with the Hudson's Bay Company as a window dresser and clerk in 1905. By 1909 John had been promoted to the position of advertising manager. He worked for the Hudson's Bay Company from 1905 to 1913 and again from 1917 to 1925. During his time as a farmer John Prest had befriended the Cree at Hobbema and this would serve him well in his career with the Hudson's Bay Company.

    As part of the Historical Pageant (1920) put on by the Hudson's Bay Company for their 250th Anniversary, John Prest acted as the producer and writer for the Pageant and coordinated the Indigenous contingent in the parade. In October of 1923 Thomas H. Ince Studios employed John Prest to organize a large contingent of Cree people from Maskwacis to participate in the film, “The Last Frontier. For the Edmonton Exhibition of July 1924, John Prest made arrangements with Chief Samson of Maskwacis to have his people participate in the exhibition.

    During his tenure with the Hudson's Bay Company, John Prest wrote a number of articles for The Beaver. He was the Edmonton Associate Editor [ca. 1923 – 1925]. John Prest and family left Edmonton in 1925 for Toronto, but shortly thereafter took up residence in London, Ontario where John Prest became the Advertising Manager for Smallman and Ingram in 1926. John Prest and his wife Elizabeth (Buckley) (d. 1978) returned to Toronto in 1939 to be near their son Victor Prest (1913-2003).

    John Prest died in Toronto on May 16, 1955.

    Custodial history

    The photographs were bequeathed to Victor Prest by his father John (Jack) Prest.

    Scope and content

    The fonds consists of 16 Black and White photographs, with the Cree peoples of Maskwacis are the predominate subject matter. Subjects include portraits, the Sun dance and the demonstration of traditional tools. Identification has been written on the back of the photographs. The photographs appear to have been used as promotional material for the Hudson’s Bay Company. For example, the photograph described as “Sun Dance,” Hobbema, Alta, Exterior of Sacred Shrine” is used in an article in The Beaver as “Shrine for Sun Dance” (John Prest, “Cree Sun Dance at Hobbema,” The Beaver, November 1923). Four of the photos which are numbered in series one to four and provided lengthy captions are photos that were taken as part of the filming of “The Last Frontier.” These photographs appear to have been taken by Philip H. Godsell (For further information see Associated Material).

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    Physical condition

    Immediate source of acquisition

    The photographs were forwarded to the Provincial Archives of Alberta in 2002 by Gordon Prest on behalf of his first cousin Victor Prest.


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        The material is in English.

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        Restrictions on access

        Access Conditions: None

        Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

        Use Conditions: Permission for use required.

        Finding aids

        File list is available.

        Associated materials

        PR1976.0369/SE. Information File – Prest, Ben James. Information File – Prest, John (Jack).

        Philip H. Godsell fonds at the Glenbow Museum Archives, see Image No: NA-3878-64. Also see the following images at the Glenbow Museum Archives documenting the same or similar events at Hobbema: NA-1223-19, NA-2114-40, NA-2114-41, NA-1223-20, NA-1223-21.Some of these photographs may be used to identify individuals found in the John Prest fonds.


        Further accruals are not expected.

        General note

        Information for the administrative history/biographical sketch is taken from biographical information provided by Gordon Prest and Victor Prest. Other research sources include articles in the Beaver by J. Prest (aka John Prest, Jack Prest). Articles relevant to the photographs, include, “Cree Sun Dance at Hobbema,” The Beaver (November 1923); “The Buffalo Stampede at the Wainwright Reserve,” The Beaver (November 1923); and “Historical Pageant,” The Beaver (October 1922). The Edmonton Henderson Directories were used and an Information File on Ben James Prest was also used. Also see the Glenbow Museum on-line photographic database.

        General note

        Includes accession PR2007.0139.

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