The Crook family reads one of the interpretive panels as part of the Ripples of the Past Interpretive Trail.

Fort community project wins award

A national award for outstanding achievement in heritage interpretation has just been given to a project in Fort St. James, B.C..

A prestigious national award for outstanding achievement in heritage interpretation has just been given to a community project in Fort St. James, B.C..

Dubbed the Ripples of the Past Interpretive Walk, the project received a Gold award for the category of Non-Personal Interpretation, a category for outstanding exhibits and education panel projects across Canada.

Interpretation Canada, the national organization which trains and encourages the profession of heritage interpretation across Canada, awarded the honour through a panel of judges representing every region of the country.

Fort St. James shares the Gold designation with designers of the Amisk Interpretive trail project built in Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba.

The project involved the creation of an interpretive walking tour that links the Parks Canada Fort St. James National Historic Site to various cultural resources throughout the town of Fort St. James.

Roughly 2 km in length, 10 interpretive signs were created that cover various evolutions in Fort St. James’ past, from aboriginal history and explorers to natural history and aviation. The panel project was a component of the Downtown Revitalization Project which was completed in early 2011.

The revitalization gave the business district in Fort St. James a significant makeover.

The large scale project involved numerous partners, including Western Economic Diversification Canada, and was coordinated by the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce.

The development of the interpretive panels was led by a team from Fort St. James National Historic Site, the Chamber of Commerce, District of Fort St. James council and Eggplant Studios graphic designers from Prince George.

National Historic Site Manager Bob Grill and Product Development Officer Kevin Gedling established the interpretive theme and assembled historic photos and text for each panel. Contributions from the community came from Lillian Sam and Harold Prince from Nak’azdli, while local aviation historian Grant Luck was consulted on the final panel at the Russ Baker Memorial.

The panels were built on sturdy steel frames on a material called digital image high pressure laminate: an extremely high quality sign material commonly used in national park projects of a similar nature.

As such, the panels were designed to be durable and to last a long time. The panels enable visitors to interact with just one or all ten panels along the route and serve to combine some of the community’s most cherished historic sites. Rather than promoting them all as separate, individual attractions, the Ripples of the Past Interpretive Walk packaged several smaller experiences in the Fort St. James under one simple, identifiable experience and has been successful in luring visitors to the historic park to continue their heritage tourism adventures throughout the town site.

The announcement of this award follows a series of several successful projects recognized for regional and national excellence at Fort St. James National Historic Site.

The awarding of a national award of excellence for a project which covers so many parts of Fort St. James’ past and involved so many different people in the Fort St. James area is an award for which everyone can truly be proud.

Fort St. James and Nak’azdli First Nation, as a community full of vibrant people and a rich past, developed one of the best interpretive experiences in Canada.

For more information about the Ripples of the Past Interpretive Walk or Fort St. James National Historic Site:

Call: 250-996-7191 Email:stjames@pc.gc.ca Web: www.parkscanada.gc.ca/fortstjames

For more information about the District of Fort St. James or the Downtown Revitalization Project of 2010-2011. Call: 250-996-8233 Email: edo@fortstjames.ca Web: www.fortstjames.ca

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