Marking History

How can we as historians uncover and share stories about our community? This was the driving question for our first project of grade 12.  The goal of this project was to find a story of our community from the past, and tell it within a walking tour for the Deep Cove Heritage Society.  We started the project by learning what it means to be a historian, and what is necessary to keep in mind if you’re acting as one.  Below are some notes I took during this lesson:

The White Paper

We as a class were challenged to read and learn about The White Paper, and discuss it in a socratic seminar.  I read the full White Paper and felt prepared to talk about it although the conversation quickly got off topic so I felt I couldn’t contribute much.  The main thing that I took away from reading and thinking about the White Paper was the difference in perspectives.  As someone who is not Indigenous or in a scenario that the paper would affect me, it seemed like an agreeable, fair proposition but learning that it was harshly rejected by the Indigenous community made me think about why.  That lead me to realize that 1969 was a very different time, and by that point there had been little ,if any, reconciliation towards the Indigenous peoples.  That’s why this proposal was so disliked, because no action had yet been taken to work to that point, with trust that it wouldn’t just mean assimilation.  

We then started on our milestones for this project, which built up to our finished walking tour.

Milestone 1 — The Historians Oath

The purpose of the historians oath was to stay accountable throughout our journey as historians, by making sure to know our priorities and goals.  We had to list two actions that we felt were the most important for telling stories accurately and effectively, and justify our choices.  In my historians oath I chose to value formulating strong and thoughtful questions, and providing compelling and sufficient evidence to support the claims I made.  I felt it was important to choose these two actions because they are the fundamentals to telling a good story from the past, and best answered the driving question, “How can we as historians uncover and share stories about our community?”.  I believe that as the milestones went on I maintained these values in my storytelling.  

   My Historians Oath

     “As a historian, I will strive to formulate strong, thoughtful questions, because that is a historian’s job.  Asking a question that is worthy of being answered is harder than answering it, and it takes time and work to compose.  Without asking questions that will enhance our comprehension of our world and history, we cannot gain the understanding of them that we strive to have.  As a historian, I will also strive to provide compelling and sufficient evidence to support the claims I make, because without supplying proof for a theory, it remains a theory.  Concrete evidence is what has brought all ideas into history books, as legitimate information.  I think that these two goals are among the most fundamental and important for historians to hold and strive for, because they are the foundation on which the documentation of our history is based on.”

Milestone 2 — Taking Historical Perspective

This milestone was an opportunity for us as historians to challenge ourselves to think of perspectives the are or have been present in the cove.  I found this a difficult milestone because I wasn’t sure what perspective to choose, or why.  I spent time thinking about it and came to the conclusion, with help from my assignment to the ‘Business in the Cove’ marker, that I’d do local business owners as my first perspective.  Then for my second perspective I thought about what complimented local business owners well, tourists.  For perspective one I talked about how local business owners are very important to the community because of their services and bringing tourists in.  Local business owners care a lot about the people in the community and keeping the community safe, I added the example of Megan Curren going in front of the District of North Vancouver to voice her concerns about over-crowding in Deep Cove.  For my second perspective I mentioned that tourists are very important to Deep Cove because a big part of the community is our recreation.

Milestone 3 — Research Log

This milestone was basically preparation for our marker, we were provided with a research log template and were asked to fill it with information we’d found for our historical marker.  At this point in the project I had a good idea of what my marker would be, I was just struggling to find a specific story to include in my marker.  This milestone was an important one to the driving question because it directly was an answer to it, as the quality and thought that went into your template showed how you as a historian were uncovering the available stories for your marker, and how you were choosing to tell them.  At this point I had my main ideas that I wanted to communicate nailed down, the perspectives I wanted to include, a brief story, and some images and other artifacts including a list of all businesses operating on Gallant Ave in 1975 and a historical picture of the Cove.

Milestone 4 — Google Maps and Pamphlet Submissions

At this point in the project we were handing in the first drafts of our submissions for the google map walking tour, and the pamphlet walking tour, getting feedback, and revising.  For this milestone I had figured out a good story to include within my narrative.  My story was that business has been important in the community from the beginning in 1927 with John and Rhoda Moore’s General Store, how support for locally owned businesses decreased for multiple reasons, and how it was revived by the Savoury restaurant in 1974, and then Honey’s in 1996.  My feedback was that I needed to include more perspectives into my story, I needed to include my sources in my submission, and that I needed to include where to stand because we were no longer going to have physical markers, I fixed these problems and was given the go ahead into Milestone 5.  I had chosen my historical image, my marker’s pin drop, and had found a good story to include.  I had to work hard for this milestone because ‘Business in the Cove’ is such a vague marker which is so open to interpretation, so I had to do some reading and get creative.  

Milestone 5 — Google Maps and Pamphlet FINAL Submissions

Milestone five was a continuation of milestone four, where we had to have our submissions for the walking tour completely done, for the pamphlet that meant just fixing the feedback, but for the google maps submission there was also a few new things to do.  For the google maps submission we were asked to include an audio file of you explaining your marker, and a digital enhancement.  The audio file was easy to make because there were a few things I had to cut from my original written story because of the word limit, so I just read my original written narrative and it was finished.  The digital enhancement wasn’t so easy, I decided to make a timeline highlighting some important Deep Cove business’s stories over time, for some this meant just their opening date, and other stories continued through the timeline highlighting many things that happened.  This was based on what information I could get, and what businesses were important.  I used the book Echoes Across Seymour a lot for this assignment.  

Link to google map —

Milestone 6 — Finishing Touches

This milestone was a bit less structured than the others as it was basically there to encompass all that we had left to do, and all that we could finish in the time remaining.  Part of this was making a video at our location explaining what our marker was about, which I finished but unfortunately it was a rainy day with construction around me so it was a challenge, but I did my best!

For the rest of this milestone we worked on getting the google map (and pamphlet) made, inputting people’s narratives, digital enhancements, audio recordings, and historical photos together to make the tour.  My job was to edit the written narratives which proved to be a difficult task as I couldn’t get access to them with the ability to edit them, but it got worked out.  Then, our last task for our project was to tell our thoughts and our personal feelings about the project.  I feel that this was a good project, as it forced us to do real world learning and there was real pressure to make the walking tour good because it wasn’t just a school project, this was a real walking tour that real people will go on.  I will say that during this project I did miss the class learning aspect though, with everybody only studying their specific marker’s history and stories I feel like I missed out on a lot of Deep Cove history and possible knowledge about the community.  Nevertheless it was an eventful, challenging project that I feel was valuable for the class.