History of Prince Albert Winter Carnival discussed at Museum’s Coffee and Conversation

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Barry Mihilewicz and Fred Payton led the Prince Albert Museum's Coffee and Conversation on the Prince Albert Winter Carnival on Thursday afternoon.

Before the Prince Albert Winter Festival there was the Prince Albert Winter Carnival.

The Prince Albert Museum’s Coffee and Conversation for February outlined the history of the event, which ran from 1926 to 1929, on Thursday afternoon.

Prince Albert Historical Society president Fred Payton led the talk. Payton explained that the idea sprang from it being Winter Festival season in Prince Albert.

“I had been aware of the fact that we had had a winter carnival back in the twenties, which really was what led to Winter Festival,” Payton said.

He explained that the event acted as precursor before the Winter Festival came in the 1960s.

“I thought it would be interesting for people to know a little bit about the history of the Winter Carnival,” he explained.

Along with Payton, Barry Mihilewicz talked about the start of the Prince Albert Winter Festival to combine the themes.

The Prince Albert Winter Carnival ran from 1926 to 1929 and the first one in 1926 came together quickly according to Payton.

“It was done so quickly. It’s phenomenal. They had a meeting at the beginning of January and they put on the Winter Carnival, the beginning of March. And then you add all together in a matter of two months, that’s really phenomenal. And it was a very, very well attended and a very well-organized winter carnival,” Payton said.

Payton explained that in 1927 the four day carnival was well received.

”Then in 1928, there was a little bit of difficulty with the citizens of Prince Albert because they had made considerable money for the day in the two previous carnivals and nobody knew what was being done for money. And so just before the carnival was announced, the Carnival Association announced that they were going to take that money and they were going to use it to help build a new hockey rink and auditorium,” Payton explained.

For the hockey tournament in the previous year the arena on River Street was sold out and people removed the boards on the side of the building to see the final.

“And the Herald had nice little editorial shortly thereafter saying it’s a good thing that they said that because otherwise support for the carnival would have dropped,” Payton said.

In 1929 the Carnival moved off the river to the Prince Albert Exhibition Grounds and Armoury.

“They had really pathetic weather that year. I mean, it was quite warm,” he explained.

The warm weather created not ideal conditions for a Winter Carnival according to Payton.

“The dogs were running on dirt and the kids activities were all being done in water and mud and after that, the carnival disappeared. Now, I suspect a lot of it had to do with Black Monday later on in 1929. But it the carnival ended in March of 1929 and there were no carnival thereafter,” he explained.

The Winter Carnival was sometimes called the Prince Albert Winter Carnival and sometimes called the North Saskatchewan Winter Carnival.

The beauty pageant for 1929 was called the World’s Beauty Pageant.

The advertising in the Daily Herald showed how the Winter Carnival progressed and the papers were on display for the large crowd in attendance on Thursday. In 1926 it was a full page ad, in 1927 the ad was a centre spread two page ad and in 1929 it was a quarter page or half page ad.

“ So you could tell the things were starting to struggle,” Payton said.

The next Coffee and Conversation for the Prince Albert Museum will feature former Mayor and broadcaster Jim Scarrow on the history of radio in Prince Albert. The date is March 23 and has been set according to Payton.