Park Individuals: Dialog With a Historian

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Parks Canada historian Meg Stanley at the Canso Bomber crash site in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Parks Canada historian Meg Stanley on the Canso Bomber crash web site in Pacific Rim Nationwide Park Reserve/Parks Canada

Parks Canada historian Meg Stanley has a succinct and evocative manner of describing her job: “It’s the artwork of becoming a narrative into an area, and taking a narrative and expressing it in a three-dimensional manner.”

She has delved into the historical past of the Trans-Canada Freeway in Glacier Nationwide Park and Yoho Nationwide Park, helped redevelop Cave and Basin Nationwide Historic Website with new displays and an interpreters’ handbook, and explored root cellars for an exhibit at Bar U Ranch Nationwide Historic Website.

The street to this dream gig began with a grasp’s diploma in public historical past from Western College after which 20 years consulting within the heritage subject in Vancouver earlier than becoming a member of Parks Canada in 2009.

Visitors read the

Guests learn the “Enemy Aliens, Prisoners of Conflict” internment diorama at Cave and Basin Nationwide Historic Website in Banff Nationwide Park/Parks Canada

Now primarily based in Calgary, Stanley’s function is tucked into the Archaeology and Historical past Department and the Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate. She focuses on public historical past, Western Canadian/British Columbia historical past, late nineteenth and twentieth century environmental historical past (together with Parks Canada historical past), and the historical past of recreation. A typical day consists of researching, writing and collaborating.

One in every of Stanley’s first main initiatives was to analysis Canada’s First World Conflict internment operations for an exhibit at Cave and Basin inside Banff Nationwide Park. “Enemy Aliens, Prisoners of Conflict: Canada’s First World Conflict Internment Operations 1914-1920” explores the best way that Canada interned civilian prisoners of battle from international locations it was at battle with.

She researched the subject, wrote about it, acquired photographs and labored with designers on the exhibit idea. “The historian is one half of a bigger, interdisciplinary crew,” says Stanley.

The reimagined Cave and Basin National Historic Site's Story Hall exhibit space.

The reimagined Cave and Basin Nationwide Historic Website’s Story Corridor exhibit house/Parks Canada

She additionally labored on a redevelopment of Cave and Basin, which celebrates Banff because the birthplace of Canadian nationwide parks. Again in 1883, three railway employees stumbled upon a mountain cave — lengthy recognized to Indigenous individuals — filled with sizzling mineral spring waters. They constructed a small construction and arrange for paying visitors however misplaced their bid to assert title to the land. The Canadian authorities correctly deemed the realm off-limits on the market or settlement and began making a nationwide park system. A city, lodge and bridge over the Bow River had been constructed so individuals may entry the Cave and Basin.

“It will get developed for a spot to go and bathe,” notes Stanley, “and so it’s a part of the unique constellation of points of interest at Banff Nationwide Park.”

Once more, there was work on the storyline, creating content material, buying photographs and dealing with designers, plus serving to make a movie to be proven in English and French within the exhibition house.

The official opening of the Trans-Canada Highway was in Rogers Pass in 1962 and the monument in the background commemorates the event.

The official opening of the Trans-Canada Freeway was in Rogers Move in 1962 and the monument within the background commemorates the occasion/Parks Canada

Stanley has now developed a full-on fascination with “freeway tourism” and the best way the Trans-Canada Freeway helped rework nationwide parks by making entry simpler. She believes it’s necessary to construct appreciation for these sorts of assets so individuals perceive them “as one thing with a historical past, one thing with a philosophy.”

Her work on this entrance has touched on Kicking Horse Move Nationwide Historic Website, Rogers Move in Glacier Nationwide Park and Yoho.

One other enjoyable mission was Bar U Ranch’s root cellar, writing a background piece and serving to the positioning create an exhibit for its customer centre. She offered a common historical past of root cellars, a selected historical past of Bar U’s root cellar, and an interpretation idea with textual content and pictures.

The entrance to the root cellar at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site.

The doorway to the basis cellar at Bar U Ranch Nationwide Historic Website/Parks Canada

“What are totally different ways in which individuals preserved meals over time and the way does underground chilly storage slot in?” asks Stanley. She regarded into canning, preserving and the way rural electrical energy modified meals preservation, and might nonetheless rhyme off a listing of meals phrases (rot, putrefy, bitter, corrupt, go rank, mothered, maggoty) related to this mission.

“I didn’t suppose I’d be inquisitive about meals preservation, however I discovered it fascinating.”

There are a number of historians working for Parks Canada. Stanley zeroes in on the mountain and coastal subject models in Alberta and British Columbia, however may be looped into different initiatives if her space of experience is required.

Now it's time to research the iconic bighorn sheep at Kootenay National Park.

Now it is time to analysis the long-lasting bighorn sheep at Kootenay Nationwide Park/A. Dibb, Parks Canada

Now she’s working with Kootenay Nationwide Park on a sequence of “quick” historic essays — quick to her means 5,000 to 7,000 phrases — to mark its centennial and assist interpretation and internet materials. She has already written two essays on Radium Sizzling Springs and can be analyzing the native freeway historical past. She’ll additionally dig into the park’s iconic species — Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats (that are the park’s image) — and determine how they’re understood and managed.

“I feel it is going to be attention-grabbing to deal with that,” says Stanley.

A new bathhouse opened at Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park in 1928.

A brand new bathhouse opened at Radium Sizzling Springs in Kootenay Nationwide Park in June 1928/Parks Canada

On the west coast, she loved learning the 1945 crash of the Canso Bomber (the positioning is inside Pacific Rim Nationwide Park Reserve), and expects to work on background materials. “Historical past can assist various things,” factors out Stanley. “It’s not all straight and clearly customer dealing with. Generally it’s just a few steps eliminated.”

When requested what software, object or method is most important to her work, Stanley says curiosity and being open to being improper. “There’s a good bit of serendipity in my work. I could also be in search of one factor and discover one thing utterly surprising that helps me humanize the story. And these tales are by no means completed. We’re at all times discovering out new issues or discovering a brand new manner to consider one thing.”


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