Isabel May Campbell, the daughter of Clyde and Myrtle
Campbell, was born March 18, 1907 in Rock Springs,
Wyoming. In 1918, Clyde decided to move to the Peace
Country, intending it to be a temporary stay. Travelling by
train, Clyde was so impressed by the quiet beauty and the
potential of the land that he decided to stake a homestead
claim in the Elmworth area on SE 5-70-11 W6th in April
1919. He built a cabin and Myrtle and Isabel joined him on
the homestead that August.
The Campbell family became Canadian citizens in 1924.
The family homesteaded for a total of nine years until 1928
when they were forced to return to Toledo, Ohio, because of
Clyde’s ill health. Clyde died in 1930. Myrtle remarried to
Franklin Brewer, a former Peace Country neighbour in 1945
and returned to the Elmworth area, where she stayed until
her death in 1964.
Isabel trained as a journalist and worked for the Bowling
Green Daily Sentinel, the Daily Olympian in Washington, the State Reference Library, and the Washington State
Historical Society Museum. Isabel moved back to Canada and the Peace River Country in 1951.
Upon her return, she first worked at the Beaverlodge Research Station and then worked as a reporter
for the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune, writing regular history columns such as “Down Memory
Lane” and “This Was Yesterday”, even after her retirement in 1968.
Isabel Campbell made numerous contributions to preserving the history of the Peace Country including
featuring a daily radio program entitled Heritage on CJXX, gathering archival material for preservation
from organizations, government, social groups, and individuals, and painstakingly indexing articles in
Grande Prairie newspapers from 1913 to 1961 for research purposes. Isabel was also the first
secretary for the Pioneer Museum Society of Grande Prairie and District when it was formed in 1961.
Using her carefully amassed collection, Isabel published Grande Prairie: Capitol of the Peace for the
City’s 10th anniversary in 1968, edited Pioneers of the Peace, published in 1975 for the Oldtimers’
Association, and provided substantial information to historian J.G. MacGregor for the publication of
Grande Prairie in 1983.
Isabel was recognized for her efforts to preserve the history of the Peace Region with the Alberta
Achievement Award in 1983. In 1988, she was recognized for the George Repka Award for her
community contributions in arts, culture, and social areas. In 1989, she donated her historical collection
to the Grande Prairie Public Library. The library continues to have an Isabel Campbell room dedicated
to local historical resources, although Isabel’s collections have since been transferred to South Peace
Isabel Campbell passed away in 1998. A portion of her estate was willed to the Grande Prairie Museum
and many artifacts from her life can be found there.
Source: South Peace Regional Archives