A new take on an old site

If you think you’ve seen everything the Fort St. James Historic Site has to offer you might want to think again.

Kevin Gedling

Kevin Gedling

By Jonas Gagnon

Caledonia Courier

If you think you’ve seen everything the Fort St. James Historic Site has to offer you might want to think again.

“This,” Kevin Gedling, Product Development Officer at the park, said, motioning his arm over the visitor centre, “is what people aren’t going to recognise.”

Various tools and equipment lay scattered around the newly painted room. Though still incomplete the room is starting to take on its own character.

The National Historic Site was officially opened in 1977, and the display room in the visitor center had not been changed since. A new initiative, to display the story of the Métis, led to funding and the push to renovate the room.

“Big chunks of the story were missing,” said Gedling, “like the whole Carrier experience or the Métis story.”

Since the exhibits were so old, a single new exhibit about the Métis was not enough to tell the whole story.

“In order to tell the Métis story you have to tell the whole story better,” said Gedling.

This led to the complete overhaul of the space and the creation of committees to guide the site as it tells the story, not only of the European settlers, but of the Carrier people during that time, and the Métis contribution.

The renovation covers more than just the people of the region.

“One of the things people have told us is they want to learn more about area wildlife,” said Gedling.

So, with the renovations, comes a fish tank that will house local fish species from Stuart Lake.

The historic site has kept most of the construction in house, with 80 to 90 per cent of the work being done by the site manager, Bob Grill, and maintenance, Alex Mitchell.

Gedling is proud of the exhibition.

“This will bring us right up to the level of what people want,” said Gedling.

The site will be opening to the public in early May, with the opening of the exhibition hopefully trailing it soon after.