This is my final article of the 2014 Barkerville season. I started my second year of blogging for Barkerville back in May, as I eagerly anticipated a return to the streets as an historical interpreter after an eleven year absence. I had no idea how it would feel to be back out there, in my boots and bustle. I was excited, nervous and curious about how it would all turn out. And now here I stand, on the edge of autumn, gazing back at the past five months.
This has been a season where the reassuringly familiar was all tangled up with the exciting unknown. I started the season with a timeworn, well known role to step right back into: Miss Florence Wilson, a documented character I have played since 1993. I was no longer playing Miss Wilson firmly anchored in 1870 as I used to, however. Instead, my fellow street interpreters and I were taking on the abstract challenge of portraying our characters within the parameters of the entire time they spent in the Cariboo. It took a few weeks to really get the hang of this new concept but I think we nailed it, and we all really enjoyed the freshness of releasing ourselves from the shackles of a “target year.”
Although the landscape of Barkerville remains much as it has been since I first joined its community of actor-interpreters twenty-one years ago, I have certainly changed. I now have two decades more life experience, including a Master’s degree in museum theatre, to apply to my work interpreting our unique gold rush story. I am now a wife and mother and a much older version of the woman who started working here all those years ago. I discovered, over the course of this season, that age and experience have made me a more grounded, insightful, and thoughtful interpreter. I simply have more perspective to bring to the history I have the privilege to talk about every day. I cannot deny, though, that my much older body has felt the effects of spending forty-plus hours a week, up on my feet, operating at performance level energy. In the dying days of this 2014 season, I am very tired, but I am also wistful about packing Barkerville up and putting her away for another year.
Over the past five months I have so enjoyed watching Barkerville’s rich, altering scenery. In May the snowbanks loomed and I loved seeing them slowly melt, like constantly morphing sculptures. The winter-crushed grasses stretched to meet the sun as the last of the snow left and the brown land shook itself back to lush green. As spring rolled into summer the rain nearly drowned us, the sun baked our faces and the forest fires turned the sun blood orange. September brought in puddles licked with morning ice, and the splendor of changing trees bursting into golden glory before tossing their leaves to the afternoon winds in a swirl of crisp release. I will miss watching Barkerville’s ever changing scenery.
Yes, I will miss our town. I will miss the thrill of telling our stories to world travellers, and the camaraderie between site staff. I will miss the crazy social whirl that accompanies the tourist season as we rush from our daily Barkerville duties to evening rehearsals of cabarets, or to potlucks or pub dates.
And I will miss writing these articles. Writing for Barkerville has allowed me to reflect on what our National Historic Site means to so many people. I am glad that this place matters so much to so many.
So, as a sign off for the season, please allow me to say thank you one more time for reading, for visiting and for keeping this place in your hearts and minds. Barkerville belongs to the people of British Columbia, and it is my privilege to be one of its caretakers.
– Danette Boucher
The above one-panel cartoon (originally published September 27th, 2014) by Dirk Van Stralen, with accompanying editorial by Danette Boucher, is the twentieth of twenty weekly entries that were logged – and subsequently blogged – as part of a 2014 collaboration between Barkerville, British Columbia and the Prince George Citizen aimed at introducing some of the quirkier advantages to living, working, and playing in the Cariboo Goldfields. We hope you enjoy!