We are so thankful to our audiences and our volunteers for another very successful Guided Spirit Walk season at Victoria Lawn Cemetery. The walks bring history to life through theatrical performances based on the histories of the folks who made an important mark in our city. Thank you also to the many folks who reached out with kind comments of enjoyment and enthusiasm! We appreciate it!
This season, the story centered on our guide, Jane Smith (a fictional, budding historian) trying to discover the history of the name of St. Catharines, and the early settlers who brought the town to life in the 1820s. While the tour included many stories of early life in the village, Jane discovered that history isn’t so simple.
Here’s a bit more on the approach to this year’s walks as written in the programme from our writer/director Visitor Services Coordinator Adrian Petry:
“This year’s spirit walks reveal the challenges we face as historians in finding a “simple, believable, easy-to-share, easy-to-read, and easy-to-like narrative.” Underneath Jane Smith’s self-serving dislike for Jane Austen are some unending historical challenges and the idea of our not knowing the answers to our questions. With our lives, news, and daily happenings so well documented and published, it is difficult for us to accept that we don’t know something, for example, as important as the origin of the name
With such an unfulfilling narrative era in our history, the tone of our walks this year may surprise you. Taking my cue from social media, I wrote each scene as a realization of one of my favourite suppositions about the past: what if they had social media? In response, we hear about the stories of the town through the voices of the people that lived them, similarly to how our own voices (through social media) may be used to tell our stories in years to come. There’s a scene dripping with gossip, another filled with nostalgia, one with someone who panics about the latest diseases, and another with the entitlement and rage that is so common to Facebook comment threads.
Despite the historical fact with which each scene is grounded, the script may leave you with more questions than answers. But, the mix of character work with the stories of the people buried here, along with the immersion of our imaginations in the past is all part of the magic of our annual Guided Spirit Walks.
We never intend the walks to be the only history you consume. We hope you continue to explore our community’s history. And, I hope you take away that, as
Alpheus St. John says in the script: “all good historians know it’s a very complicated story without a clear answer. They should be wary when publishing.””
More on the Characters…
For more information on this year’s volunteer performers and character biographies, please visit our blog posts which can be found here: Guided Spirit Walks – Museum Chat (stcatharinesmuseumblog.com)
That’s a Wrap!
Thanks again for all your support for our programming. Please enjoy this photo album of this year’s walks. We’ll see you again next year!