Last Time: (Re)visiting Fort Edmonton Park Part II: 1905 Street
Dominion Day Bunting: I love the word “bunting”. I find it a cheerful piece of vocabulary, although I also associate it the action of booting/kicking for some reason. These are also the colours of the British/Imperial flag, not a celebration of France or the United States, though some visitors do get confused. God save the Queen!
“A tourist’s confusion. While I was taking this picture one of the other visitors made the comment about how the bunting (Not a permanent fixture, just a Dominion Day decoration) must be an homage to the French contingent of Canada’s history. I’m fairly certain that it’s just the colours of the Union Jack and not the French flag though, especially in a province that was named after a member of the British Royalty. Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, daughter of Queen Victoria who at the time was the ‘Queen of Canada’.”
Goal/Jail: People sometimes come to the park looking for ghosts. Ferkins House on 1905 street is often a target because Creepy Canada invented a ghost story there. Literally: they made up sources telling the story of a dead child and claimed that the artifact doll in the house belonged to him and was found to move around when no-one was there… even though that doll is from the City of Edmonton’s artifact collection and is from an entirely different family, and the only resident who died while owning the house (I am told) perished in a car accident on the Yellowhead Highway in the 1970s. Not exactly the stuff of spooky Edwardian/Victorian ghost stories. Nevertheless, many visitors do come to the park looking for haunted houses. Apparently one visitor captured a “spirit” of a prisoner on film in the jailhouse here and sent the photo triumphantly to one of the park supervisors, not knowing that this building is a reconstruction from the 1980s.
I believe in ghosts – there are too many unexplained phenomena in the world for everything to have been explained by science, which as a discipline has really only been around for a few centuries – but I do not believe that any of the buildings on site are haunted. Ferkins House, in particular, is a very warm and cozy place and actually has a very friendly atmosphere. The jail is a bit creepier-looking, to be sure, but the handsome Mounties in their dapper uniforms always hang about there, so it can’t be all that bad!
“No flatscreens here! This is the jail. Prisoners were given a cot and a bucket. My brother worked in the construction of a prison centre not too long ago and one of his jobs was installing a flatscreen tv in each cell. Far cry, eh?”
Not A Treasure Chest: There are quite a few of these travelling chests in the park. Some of them are actually behind the scenes and are used as storage. I found one trunk in the basement of one of the buildings on 1920s street (yes, many of them have basements) that contained old flyers and maintenance logs for the park from 1980s. Treasure chests indeed!
“Taxi! Visitors to the park can hop a ride on the old fashioned horse drawn mode of transportation for an authentic 1880s street experience! It’s fun ok. It will never not be fun whether I’m a little kid or in my twenties.”
Horses for Hire
“All the Scary Horses. They actually do keep horses stabled in here. This is also where I got to practice my limited K-drama Korean with some South Korean tourists.”
As Near to a Traffic Jam as the 1880s Can Get
“Busiest street in the park! Ok, so in terms of pedestrian traffic it wasn’t the busiest but notice that there are two ‘vehicles’ on the road here. More than one automatically qualifies this as a Fort Edmonton traffic jam.”
Your Chariot Awaits: Apparently the interpreters on 1885 street always have to chase people away from sitting in the artifact carriages. They’re not up to as much wear and tear as visitors try to subject them to! The chicken coop in the left of the frame is also full of chickens and turkeys, who are also liable to be chased by children. Don’t chase the turkeys, please!
“Wait, where are the chickens? I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be admitting this but I used to try my darnedest to catch the chickens that would amble around here when I was a kid. Maybe they’re gone now due to too many unruly children chasing them?”
Glee Club: I can only assume that this is the Glee Club program. Some interpreters absolutely love it, others absolutely hate it. Though considering the presence of the Mountie and the fact that this photograph was taken on Dominion Day, perhaps I am mistaken and it was a special program. Singing seems to have been involved in some way, however.
Oh, and that megaphone? There are a handful on site, and they are one of several props that are shared between time periods. It can sometimes be a challenge to find (liberate) them for use in programming. Chalkboards and bicycles that can be used in multiple eras are also guarded jealously.
“God Save the Queen! I haven’t heard the interpreters singing this before so I assume it was part of the Dominion Day festivities being held throughout the park. Also, as I mentioned earlier, it was over 30 degrees that day and these interpreters had to stand there all day dressed in heavy, modest period clothing all the while keeping a smile on their face. Respect.”
Lining Up: That bakery used to be where the bread was sold in the park; now it’s in the restaurant across the street in Jasper House. The Drug Store is now also a retail store that sells some candy, but it wasn’t always so. Note the lovely, lovely shade provided by the trees on this street. I found a postcard from the 1970s or 1980s that showed a few of the street across the way, and it looks very similar except for the fact that there is no foliage whatsoever; the trees hadn’t been planted yet.
“Favourite Street of the day. Why? Because there was shade and it was really, really hot out.”
The Church of the Man Who Stole the Manito Stone: Ah, MacDougall’s Church! Founded in 1871, it is the oldest building… in Edmonton, not on its original location. For a while many thought it was the oldest building still standing in Alberta, forgetting about the Father Lacombe chapel in St. Albert, not too far away (Edmonton and St. Albert had telephone service connecting them in the 1880s, not known for long distance telephone calls!), plus a few other building elsewhere, possibly one out by Smokey Lake? Of course, my British and French friends laugh at me when I describe this building from 1871 as one of the oldest buildings in the area. I have a friend whose family’s summer house in Southern France in from the 1400s. Still: Macdougall’s Church – a part of our history, etc.
MacDougall was also the man who took the sacred Manito stone (possibly a meteorite) away because it was encouraging non-Christian worship among the Cree.
“Preach it, Brother! When my brother and I were little we used to come here quite often with our homeschool group and each kid would be given a notebook of things we had to find, a historical fact we had to learn and write down, etc. At one point everyone piled into this church and while my mom wasn’t looking my 8 year old brother climbed up to the pulpit. He got everyone’s attention and began giving a ‘sermon’.”
The Fur Trade Continues: The fur trade didn’t completely collapse after Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, started the trend for wearing silk top hats instead of beaver felt top hats in the 1850s, but by the final decades of the nineteenth century it wasn’t what it used to be. Even after many fur trading posts gave way to settlements and retail stores, many places still had fur trading depots like the one on 1885 street. This building isn’t fun to dust, let me tell you. The furs come in on donation and are generally artifacts or humanely trapped.
God Save the King/Queen: All of us interpreters know the song, but we have to be conscious of what time period we are in, lest we sing in praise the wrong monarch. In 1846 and 1885, it’s Queen Victoria, but on 1905 Street it’s King Edward and 1920s Street it’s King George. For those of you who are just joining us; yes, Canada is still a constitutional monarchy. God save the Queen!
Icon of the West: The chuck wagons are quite iconic of Western settlement. This wagon actually serves as a visual signal to visitors coming from the fort that they are entering a new time period. It’s also an “A” location, I believe, which means that it almost always has to be manned. Other “A” locations – where you can usually be sure of finding costumed interpreters – are places such as the Trade Store and the Big House in the Fort, Mellon Farm in 1920s Street, and Rutherford House and Tent City on 1905 Street.
Other Parts in this Series
- Part I: 1920s Street (Or here on Kirsten’s blog)
- Part II: 1905 Street (Or here on Kirsten’s blog)
- Part IV: the 1846 Fort and the Return to 2013
Related Posts On Costumed Historical Interpretation and Fort Edmonton:
- Challenging Visitors and Challenging Visitor Expectations
- Immersive Visitor Involvement at Living History Museums, or, Blacksmithing and You!
- Get Your Historical Driver’s Licence Part I: Motorcars At Fort Edmonton
- Beyond the Bob: 1920s Hairstyles for the Rapunzels Among Us
- First Person Versus Third Person Interpretation
- Where is Fort Edmonton?
3 thoughts on “(Re)visiting Fort Edmonton Park Part III: 1885 Street”
My kids are finally old enough to appreciate the Fort and wow, there’s a lot of stuff to do! You definitely need 5-6 hours to get into it.
You’re totally right – you cannot get the full experience of Fort Edmonton in a single morning or afternoon!
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