An Archival Moment: The stories we tell

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Jenny Seeman
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An Archival Moment: The stories we tell

Occupational folklore is the study of shared knowledge and experiences of people working in similar occupational settings. Studies have been conducted on the narrative expressions of taxi drivers (such as jokes and storytelling), the music of lumber camps, and the shared beliefs, customs, and skills of such disparate groups as Wall Street traders, dock-workers, firefighters and dairy farmers. I wonder what occupational folklore is to be found here at Royal Roads University?  Do we all have the shared experience of admiring the peacocks until living through mating season for the first time?

The military era at Royal Roads is certainly not without its occupational folklore. There are stories of skylarks, gruelling obstacle courses serving as a rite of passage, bugled wakey-wakey calls that began each day of study, days that were punctuated by drills, inspections, and running ‘circles’. There are some fantastic oral history interviews here in the archives that record cadet life at Royal Roads.

A look at the 1911 census shows that, aside from the Dunsmuir Family, there were well over 150 people living and working on the Hatley Park estate, tending the gardens and working the farm as well as running the house. What stories would they tell about their time here? Along with the sometimes controversial Dunsmuirs, cadet life, and the stories we have to tell today, it is the lives of those workers that intrigue me. Some of them we know a little more about, like Francis Hayward, the head gardener, (shown in the photo above) and Peter Bugslag, who lived in the gatehouse. Others are simply names on a census, and still others were never recorded. Fortunately, genealogists are similarly intrigued by the lives of their ancestors and it is my hope that we can connect with those who have a historical connection to Hatley Park. In my first week as archivist here, I met someone with a fascinating story to tell. A story I will share in a later post!

If you have stories to share, know someone who does, or would like to know more about the archives, please contact me at extension 4122, or email.

Jenny Seeman