My Experience as a First Year Interpreter – By Andrea Rankin

1885 Street

This was my first summer as a Costumed Historical Interpreter at Fort Edmonton Park. Born and raised in Edmonton, I started at the beginning of May wide-eyed and eager with no idea of what to expect. With a love of history and a background in the performing arts, I spent my summer learning and sharing with Edmontonians of all ages and what I’ve learned has stayed with me as this summer has faded into fall and fall into winter.
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I acquired many new skills this summer that I continue to practice now that the season has ended. I learned the Victorian arts of knitting and embroidering as well as the Métis arts of finger-weaving and moccasin beading. Spending time in beautiful gardens I also learned about the properties of a wide variety of plants and herbs, including their usefulness in cooking and baking. I learned to cook over an open fire and bake in a Dutch oven. And once we acquired one, I began to learn the joys and difficulties of using a wood-burning stove.

This summer I also learned the stories of the people who helped to establish and Edmonton as a city. Placed on 1885 Street, I learned about those who made Edmonton a settlement after the closing of the Fort. Kenneth and Emma MacDonald, whose original house is on site, were the first to settle outside of the Fort; Richard and Frances Ottewell broke world records for their crops in 1886 and encouraged many to make the trek West for this fertile farmland; Frank Oliver created and ran The Edmonton Bulletin – Edmonton’s first newspaper and Mr. and Mrs. McDougall’s faith and generosity of spirit led them to care for all in the area, eventually founding the McDougall Methodist Church. I have learned that this city was built on the shoulders of hard-working people who believed in the land and shared with their communities.
SketchingThumbnailWhat I loved most about working at Fort Edmonton Park was the sharing. Whether it was a visitor sharing a memory of their mother’s old Singer sewing machine or the joy on a child’s face after they’d written their name in ink, this summer was unendingly satisfying. I know that what I’ve already learned is going to stay with me and the next season is only months away!

Apply for Fort Edmonton Park positions here and at the City of Edmonton’s jobs page!