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George and Norma Piper Pocaterra fonds

1848-1979, predominant 1905-1979

Physical Description:
2.75 m of textual records. -- 6882 photographs. -- 8 sound recordings

George William Pocaterra, 1882-1972, was born in Italy, the son of an aristocratic family. In 1903 he came to Canada and worked in Winnipeg, and as a cowboy on the Bar D Ranch near High River, Alberta before he established the Buffalo Head Ranch on the Highwood River in 1905. There he developed a close relationship with the Stoneys, and explored and mapped much of the Kananaskis area. In 1924 he turned the Buffalo Head into a successful dude (guest) ranch. When his father died in 1933 he sold the ranch and returned to Italy to settle family affairs. There, in 1934, he met Norma Piper, who was studying opera singing in Milan. Norma, 1898-1983, was born in Leamington, Ontario. Her family moved to Calgary in 1918 where her father, Dr. W.A. Piper, practiced as a dentist. Norma made her Canadian debut as a coloratura soprano in 1930 and left for Italy in 1934 to further her musical career. George and Norma married in 1936, and George managed his wife's rising operatic career until it was cut short by Second World War. They returned to North America and in 1941 settled on the Ghost River. Norma became a voice instructor at Mount Royal College in 1942, and taught singing in Calgary until the 1970s. The Pocaterras moved to Calgary in 1955. For further information see The Diva & the Rancher : The Story of Norma Piper and George Pocaterra / Jennifer Hamblin and David Finch. -- Calgary : Rocky Mountain Books, 2006. See also Jennifer Hamblin's article "The Career of Operatic Soprano, Norma Piper Pocaterra" in Citymakers : Calgarians after the Frontier / Max Foran and Sheilagh S. Jameson, eds. -- Calgary : Historical Society of Alberta, Chinook Country Chapter, 1987.

Scope and Content:
The fonds consists of George's diaries (1935-1969), correspondence (1905-1971), ranching records, reminiscences, obituary, recorded speech and interview; Norma's diaries (1935-1940, 1970-1979), correspondence (1925-1978), musical career records (publicity, programs, recordings of her singing, etc.), reminiscences, her biography of George, and two recorded interviews; and the Pocaterra's financial records, tax returns, scrapbooks, and photographs and slides of Kananaskis, ranches, Italy, opera, and family members. Includes Dr. W.A. Piper's correspondence, speeches, oil company prospectuses and dentistry photographs.
RECORDS RELATED TO THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS ARE ALSO IN THIS FONDS. SEE INVENTORY FOR DETAILS: Alberta Dental Association, Alberta Registered Music Teachers' Association, David Bearspaw, R.B. Bennett, Calgary Allied Arts Council, Calgary Dental Society, Calgary District Planning Commission, Calgary Stock Exchange, coal, Susan Davy, Fred Dippie, Canon Samuel H. Middleton, Olive Parnell, R.M. Patterson, Lawrence Stafford Piper, Richard Lloyd Piper, recipes, Round T Ranch (Pekisko), Harper Sibley, Temple Sinclair, J.S. Thompson, Dr. Ray Clarence Thorpe, and Guy Weadick.

Source of Acquisition:
Gifts of George and Norma Pocaterra and William Piper, 1963-1983.

The material is predominantly in English, but some of the correspondence from George to Norma is in Italian.

Originals and Reproductions:
In 1976 Library and Archives Canada copied some of this fonds into MG 30 B 84 (their microfilm M-4294). George's memoir of the Stoneys was published as "Among the Nomadic Stoneys" in Alberta Historical Review, vol.11, no.3 (1963), p. 12-19.

No restrictions on access.

Finding Aids:
Inventory and interview outlines available. Please consult before requesting material.

View finding aid / scanned documents:

There is an interview with Norma in the Sierra Club of Western Canada Oral History Project at Glenbow (RCT-618-43).

Call Numbers:
(M=manuscript; N&P=photos; R=sound recordings; S=slides; F=films)
M-3104, M-4132, M-4405, M-4843-91, M-6112, M-6340, M-6752, M-8432, RAD-14, RAT-33, RCT-85, RCT-132, RCT-136, RCT-207, PA-2393, PB-589, PC-201, PD-184, NA-695, NA-4390, NC-58, S-80, AR-19

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