Thursday, June 09, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Historical Interpreter

Blog Writer & Historical Interpreter,
Larry Ford
Ah, summer jobs! For those hardworking students who need seasonal employment what could be more enjoyable than working in front of a grill or filling up someone’s SUV. I’m not knocking either of the two jobs noted, but where I work you can dress up like someone from the past and be a doctor, a cook, a blacksmith, even a Jesuit priest! Such is the summer life of a historical interpreter at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, the reconstructed 17th century French Jesuit community just east of Midland, Ontario.  

While you have to wear heavy clothing in 30 degree weather, and you may be stuck in front of a fire, the biggest plus of the job are the people you meet from all over the world, who are interested in you and what you have to say. The majority of our audience are absolutely fascinated in hearing the story of two very different cultures, the French and the Wendat/Huron, how they interacted and what happened, both good and bad. We don’t pick sides. We try to balance the story and allow our visitors to draw conclusions, and most importantly learn about one of the most dramatic periods in Canadian history. 

Historical Interpreters are
chosen from all over Ontario
Oh, we may struggle making sagamité (a thick corn, porridge like soup that one historical Jesuit said looked like wallpaper paste), or making a twisted piece of metal we call a nail, or wearing a long black robe in the sun, our hands-on third person interpretation and story-telling have been very popular for nearly 50 years.

It’s time to go. I have a Grade 5 group from Pickering and the bus has just pulled up. Time for me to put on my beaver felt hat and lead my tour on a visit to the 17th century.

Whether you are with a school group, just dropping in, or if you are one of the lucky few who have the chance to work at Ontario’s first European community, get ready for an experience that is truly historical…a summer job second to none!