This is a journal of my personal experiences in the research of 17th & 18th methods for wilderness living and travel. My main interests are canadiens (especially those involved in the fur trade) and First Nations people of the North during this period.

It's also the home page for the Company of Voyageurs and Hivernants, a small Living History unit that gives demos at various historical sites.

“I would hold back all the voyageurs and employees of the Far West, gaining two thousand excellent men.” Bougainville, September 1758

Friday, September 16, 2011

Letter to a Ticonderoga newspaper

As you may know, Fort Ti has been in a bit of a publicity war caused by people who don't like that the interpretive guidelines have been tightened up and there's a "new Sheriff in town." Ward Oles ( brought to my attention some letters written to a local newspaper (Times of Ti).

Here is mine:

Dear Susan,

There has been a conflict brewing for the last couple of years at Fort Ti. It is not a battle like the Fort is used to. No cannon fire or volleys of muskets. This is a cultural conflict.

On one side (group 1), we have re-enactors/living historians who strive to present an image to the public and to their fellow participants that is as close as possible to their chosen 18th century persona. These folks spend countless hours poring over journals, trade lists, woodcuts, etc to find all the available information on any given subject. Whether it be an $1800 firearm or a $20 shoe buckle, they want it to be the right one. Their camps are usually pretty Spartan as this is what their research has shown the original camps were.

On the other side (group 2), things are different. We have folks for whom "good enough" is the criteria. They use outdated information, or just outright hearsay to base their persona on. Their camps are usually set up like backyard BBQs with huge amounts of chairs, tables, cookware, etc.

But the biggest difference shows in their attitudes towards the sites they frequent. Group #1 realizes that it is a PRIVLEGE to walk onto private property, set up a tent or lean-to, make a fire to cook/heat with and run around with a flintlock.

For group #2, it is there "right" to be at Fort Ti's events. They "have been coming here since..." is usually their argument. They don't care about the public getting a small glimpse of the period in question. They care about having fun. Their motivation is to have a costume party. Now that the focus is on getting people to take things more seriously, they have started a campaign of misinformation hoping to get "their fort" back. They figure if they spread enough rumors, falsehoods and outright lies, people will not show up and the Fort will be forced to allow them back and go back to "the good old days". One of them even went so far as to run a fake ad in a well-known Living History newspaper to try and sabotage the June F&I event.

These are the people you will hear stating that the Fort is being ruined.

Group 1 has invited Group 2 along for the ride. It's offered to help them along in doing a better public interpretation. Group 2 has generally declined harshly (a few have taken up the challenge).

The times are changing. Things are improving. The Fort is not dying. People need to learn to deal with it and hop on with the rest of the team.

Mario Doreste
Sharon Springs, NY

If you'd like to send a letter, please do so to this email addy:

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