ERIC KRAUSE

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ERIC KRAUSE REPORTS

MY HISTORICAL REPORTS
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THINKING "AUTHENTIC" AT THE FORTRESS OF LOUISBOURG:

PERSONAL NOTES

BY ERIC KRAUSE

FORTRESS OF LOUISBOURG

1996

[August 26, 1985/ November 23, 1988/ April 25, 1989/
April 10, 1990/May 7, 1990/ August 21, 1990]


Index


COMPROMISING THE "AUTHENTIC" SITE: 
THE THIN EDGE OF THE WEDGE

(A) "AUTHENTICITY"

What could easily become known as the Primedia Debacle is merely one of a number of disturbing examples contributing to a growing trend to compromise the historic site in the name of achieving one end or another. These ends, I think, be they increased visitor numbers or comfort or even revenue are admirable but without an overriding, identifiable philosophical bench mark as a basis for our actions, the means by which we achieve our goals may vary almost at will.

The reference bench mark with respect to physical development and intellectual interpretation of the site has always been "authenticity." In physical matters, "authenticity" has meant a healthy respect for what research has established to have been the 18th century "line, level and fabric" of objects, be they buildings, reproductions or antiques. If "line, level and fabric" was also to have a spring of 1745 date in the reconstruction process.

Intellectual interpretations were also to be "authentic" or as "authentic as possible." Fact (truth), or at the least what research thought that to be, was the bench mark to which claims of "authenticity" in our interpretation programme were to refer. As a general rule, the facts were to reflect the summer of 1744. Special animated portrayals of events which occurred at Louisbourg in years other than 1744, also now seem appropriate, whenever desired and feasible .

To sum up the discussion to this point, the overriding, identifiable philosophical bench mark upon which physical and intellectual interpretations of historic Louisbourg are based is "authenticity." Secondly, "authenticity" is defined by reference to known or reasoned facts (truth) at a given period in the history of 18th century Louisbourg.

The thin edge of the wedge that threatens to distort the "authenticity" of historic Louisbourg is actually double edged and has affected both the physical and intellectual interpretation of the site. In the first instance, insufficient maintenance funding levels have seriously compromised the "as built " line, level and fabric" of our buildings. In the second instance (with one glaring example in our physical interpretation programme) it is fiction which threatens to undermine the "authentic" presentation of historic Louisbourg.

The maintenance programme was originally envisioned as a process to preserve the "as built" lines, levels and fabrics" to their presumed spring of 1745 appearance. Predictably, the passage of time has proven this goal to be folly as our reconstructed buildings themselves began to age naturally. Nevertheless, the assumption remained that despite the deteriorating appearance of our buildings, at the least, the integrity of "as built" "line, level and fabric" would be protected during the maintenance process.

At the moment, the maintenance process revolves around the excuse, real or imagined, that in certain instances "as built" features will not be brought back to their original "as built" lines, levels and fabrics during a major maintenance operation. Rather, repairs will be effected as required, though the result will always be in keeping with traditional 18th century methods.

Clearly, the above process compromises the Louisbourg definition of "authenticity" when that bench-mark is tied to a particular date but not when it is linked to the development of Louisbourg in general. The question to resolve in light of National Historic Site Policy that "in restoration and reconstruction of historic structures that line, level and fabric shall be as true to the original as possible" and "that departure from this rule shall be justified by over-riding necessity or for the purpose of substantially increasing the life expectancy of the structure, and only then when modern materials and techniques can be effectively concealed" is:

The other edge to the wedge introduces the concept of fiction to the historic town. Some fiction is unavoidable - such as smoke and heat detectors - some is avoidable but placed for creature comfort - washroom signs some is policy, to further historical interpretation modern exhibit settings and others are inappropriate or outright mistakes rivetted hinges or error-ridden interpretations. The problem here is defining the line that separates the proper use of fiction at the expense of non-fiction.

In the physical site, modern inappropriate and incorrect intrusions (fiction) were to be hidden whenever possible, to reduce their impact upon the senses to the absolute minimum. Exceptions were tolerated only when it was absolutely impossible or was policy to do otherwise. In other words, the presentation of "authenticity" with as few intrusions as feasible was the primary goal of our designers and builders of the 60s and 70s.

To date, intellectual interpretation, i.e. the verbal and written information we transmit concerning the summer of 1744, a special event, the J. S. McLennan era or the reconstruction itself has been exclusively non-fictional. "Learn your facts" has been the goal of the extensive training programme to which we subject our operational staff each spring.

The vehicles by which we transmit what we believe are the true facts of historic Louisbourg vary considerably. On the one hand, there is the physical site itself for anyone to examine at close hand for its "authentic" touches and minimal modern intrusions; on the other there are our numerous animators, guides, exhibits, publications and films, each charged with the responsibility of transmitting as accurate a picture of historic and reconstructed Louisbourg as possible.

Perhaps our bravest and yet most controversial attempt to date at presenting the known facts was the short-lived experiment where our animators attempted role playing, i.e. the assumption of identities of historic figures who actually lived at Louisbourg. Unfortunately, the experiment did not meet expectations for two reasons:

The above experiment was also the occasion for raising once again the question of whether animation itself was an appropriate vehicle for transmitting historic information. This controversy has very deep roots, and its germination has much in common with Katharine McLennan's strong view that reconstructed buildings were equally inappropriate. In either case, we must grant that the fabric is not truly "authentic", though line and level in its broadest sense as a measure of true fact may be entirely accurate. Nevertheless, policy has determined that Louisbourg shall have both and that both shall be as close to the original as possible.

To sum up the discussion to this point:

(B) A BASIS FOR COMPROMISE

Demands on Historical Resources to provide advice which involves changes in both the physical and intellectual interpretative programmes are increasing daily. Historical Resources has few problems with change when staff can refer back directly to the previously discussed bench marks and definitions of "authenticity," but unfortunately, such demands increasingly involve questions of acceptable compromise and/or departures from known "authenticity."

Historical Resources finds it difficult to provide meaningful advice in such circumstances because formal guidelines covering both the physical and intellectual interpretive programmes have not been issued in one place to establish:

(C) THE THIN EDGE OF THE WEDGE: 
COMPROMISING THE "AUTHENTIC" SITE

The introduction of Primedia's version of historical fiction to the interpretation of Louisbourg's history might very well represent the thin edge of a wedge which could conceivably result in a major change in how Parks Canada itself will interpret the Fortress in the future, particularly if increased visitation numbers can be attributed to the film. To date, the Fortress interpretive programme has strictly adhered to guidelines of historical accuracy whenever possible. To now allow an outside agency into our reproduced historical settings to depict a variety of people, places and events in a fictionalized manner is upsetting enough, but to legitimize these activities with advice designed to ensure historical accuracy to less than a degree than demanded of our own interpretive programme surely leaves the Park open to accusations of hypocrisy.

Historical fiction is without argument generally more popular than non-fiction because it can heighten interest in otherwise dull situations through dramatic license. The questions then become:

(D) CONCLUSION

Fiction is like a cancer to non-fiction. Once accepted, it is insidious in that if not vigilantly monitored it will spread like wild fire, from mouth to mouth by people who are either uninformed or uncaring. Clearly, if the Park is suffering low visitation numbers or insufficient revenue, let us accept the fact that we must promote non-fiction in more imaginative ways with a greater commitment of existing resources. For the sake of all the dedicated people who came before us, let us not throw out the baby with the bath water.

As for Primedia, the script that I reviewed on 26 August 1985 was most enlightening. Rather than a work of Historical Fiction (as I have said, not an appropriate way to interpret or publicize historic Louisbourg in the first place), I found a work of fictional history. Historical fiction may appear in their claims, to justify their use of historic Louisbourg, but the writers were clearly more concerned with comedy than with historical fact. Consequently, they have produced a script studded with historical errors, fabrications and anachronisms.

To rescue this script and return it to any semblance of historical fiction will require a far closer scrutiny of the material than the two or three hours that I spent reading the script for the first time this Monday morning. The fact that we have agreed to the filming and are unable to reconsider our decisions will therefore require the following steps:


CHAPTER TWO

SOME RECONSTRUCTION GUIDELINES

By Eric Krause, November 23, 1988

There have been questions; like - we want to reconstruct, but how do we ensure accuracy?

(I) PRE-RECONSTRUCTION STAGE

At this stage, here are some guidelines which could prove beneficial:

(1) Ensure that you have the basics in place.

(2) In defining your ACCURACY STATEMENT, keep the following in mind:

  • In-the-Field Construction Substitute Changes

(3) Ensure that everyone, from decision maker to construction personnel to grass roots supporter have a clear understanding of the meaning of the accuracy statement.

(4) Ensure that the decision making process clearly records all resolutions, in writing and/or by signed plan, and gives a basis for each decision that satisfies the accuracy statement.

(5) Ensure that a reconstruction architect, or specialist, and a lawyer have vetted the technical and legal specifications of the construction contract, to avoid future surprises.

For example, a specialist might insist that a general reference on historic lime-based mortar include a precise recipe that modern ingredients should be added to extend its life expectancy.

(6) Decide who is to do the reconstruction work.

(7) Ensure before the reconstruction stage begins that sufficient funding is Identified so that the maintenance programme will be able to respect the accuracy statement.

(II) RECONSTRUCTION STAGE

(1) Designate ONE person as general consultant, to monitor the construction process on a regular basis with an immediate stop work authority over the construction manager.

(2) Maintain both a dated photograph and written (diary type) record.

(III) POST RECONSTRUCTION STAGE

(1) Deposit written decisions, construction plans, and photographic records in a safe location, for future reference and maintenance purposes.

(2) Be vigilant.

(3) Issue summary building manuals, for reference purposes.

(a) History manual.

(b) Maintenance manual.


CHAPTER THREE

NEGATIVE REASONING

By Eric Krause , April 25, 1989

A recent Period Presentation meeting once again raised a contentious subject which numerous people on numerous occasions have raised before. The subject of which I speak is negative reasoning and its use within the Louisbourg authenticity equation. While, more than once, this question has appeared settled, like a stubborn wart, it continues to disrupt and distort our decision making process.

Two conflicting parts comprise the whole of the Louisbourg "authenticity" equation: the philosophical need, from an historical perspective, to be totally accurate whenever possible, and the operational need, from an ad hoc perspective, to compromise history whenever necessary. Positive reasoning is the historical corroborative glue which, paradoxically, at the same time keeps the parts both together and from flying apart, so as to work in harmony. Negative logic, on the other hand, is the speculative solvent that eats away at historical binders.

At Louisbourg, we measure the degree of historical "authenticity" (accuracy) of three dimensional objects, be they buildings, pieces of furniture, or items of clothing, by comparing their modern (or antique) "lines, levels and fabrics" to what we believe (interpret) to be their 18th century counterparts within time (often 1744) and space (for example, Louisbourg, Block 17, Lot A, etc.). Our knowledge of 18th century standards may be imperfect, even flawed, and we may have to interpret or correct at a later date, but, always, we strive to be as historically accurate as possible.

To examine the "Line, Level and Fabric" composition of a three dimensional object is to determine its degree of "authenticity": By line, one means assembly, or how things are put together into a recognizable form or shape - or that process which tells us why a humble home is not a stately mansion is not a tree, or a double hung window is not a casement window; By level, one means 3 dimensional measurements or the physical size, in all conceivable directions, of the parts that comprise the recognizable assembly; And by fabric, one is speaking about materials and their intrinsic atomic composition.

Few Louisbourg objects are 100% Louisbourg "authentic". Even Louisbourg site specific antiques and original building fabric may not be 100% "authentic", given the degree which the ravages of time and people have had upon, for example, their lines or levels. Notwithstanding this disquieting fact, disappointing more would be if we were to use this knowledge as an excuse not to seek perfection.

While we must strive for perfection, this goal must not blind us to the real world of compromise. many factors, including those of cost, safety, and longevity, have become an integral part of the "authenticity" equation. How we justify and convince our colleagues of the necessity of such interventions (intrusions upon history) will determine the degree to which we compromise the lines, levels and fabrics of historic objects.

Since 1961, numerous people have applied negative logic (reasoning) to justify their doing historically less rather than historically more, or even, conversely (which may surprise outsiders), historically more rather than historically less. Unfortunately, because the negative investigative process itself is flawed (being an incorrect chain of reasoning), its conclusions are equally flawed, and, hence, neither process nor conclusion should be allowed to colour our decision making process. The fact that a chain of thought containing negative reasoning may, in fact, occasionally produce the same conclusion as a correct chain of reasoning should not be taken to legitimize its use under any circumstance.

The working out of negative logic has led to some startling historical conclusions at Louisbourg. The process is as follows: Propose a positive statement of fact, then introduce a negative statement of fact, and then compare the two statements to reach a logical conclusion that suits a particular purpose. Some few examples:

(1) POSITIVE FACT:

(2) NEGATION:

(3) Conclusion:

As you can see, this type of thought process can produce a variety of conclusions, but at its worst, the unsubstantiated or non-verifiable conclusion is the one which is perhaps the most damaging to our efforts to be as demonstrably accurate as possible. In this scenario - which, believe me, did occur quite often in the past - a person of final decision making power, with a preconceived effect in mind, will introduce a desired conclusion and then challenge the historical expert to prove categorically and verifiably that his unsubstantiated but negatively derived facts which led to the conclusion are historically incorrect. In other words, "my claim is right unless you can prove it wrong."

In conclusion, we should eradicate negative reasoning entirely from the Louisbourg authenticity equation, when justifying particular actions or historical compromise. In its most benign form it encourages bad habits like lazy thinking, but, at its worst, it spawns unsubstantiated, non-verifiable conclusions. In short, we should use verifiable facts whenever possible by following the dictum of Ronald Way, the General Consultant to Louisbourg in the 60's, who once stated, "when in doubt, don't proceed."

In other instances, where we feel we must compromise known historical evidence, let us justify these compromises without resorting to the use of negative reasoning. Let us, instead, use more measurable criteria. Let us first identify all the options and then compare their respective strengths and weaknesses. Factors like cost efficiency, longevity, health/safety concerns, practicality, environmental impact, convenience, availability of historical materials, technical/skill limitations, hidden technological advantages and use are but some of the criteria which can be measured and weighted by degree of importance.

To tolerate a negative inspired interpretative process, under any circumstance, no matter how seemingly admirable, is to invite nothing but trouble. Like a cancer, this type of logic, if allowed to persist, will most certainly spread to infect all aspects of our decision making process. Particularly vulnerable to spreading this infection will be the new players on the block, the newer staff who, unfamiliar with the Louisbourg authenticity approach in the past, will assume negative reasoning to be a legitimate tool for reaching decisions.

In time, the destructive potential of negative reasoning will become all too apparent. Why be concerned with the hard work of verifying facts and past decisions, why investigate various options, or why fix ones mental powers upon historical detail when the primary concern of decision makers seems to be the meeting of preconceived goals which cannot be demonstrably proven incorrect. Over time, as this decision making process progressively eats away at lines, levels and fabrics, it will erode the resolve of historically minded people to be, in fact, historically minded.


CHAPTER FOUR

FORTRESS OF LOUISBOURG: ITS MANDATE

By Eric Krause, April 10, 1990

(I) HISTORICAL PRINCIPLES

(II) GAIN KNOWLEDGE

(III) EDUCATION

(IV) VALIDATION

(V) CONTINUITY

(VI) ECONOMICS

(VII) HERITAGE PROTECTION

(VIII) RECREATION


CHAPTER FIVE

RECONSTRUCTION AUTHENTICITY STATEMENT

By Eric Krause, May 7, 1990

RECONSTRUCTIONS

A reconstruction programme of development and maintenance requires both an authenticity statement and a defined process to ensure success.

Reconstruction Authenticity Statement:

In applied history, the goal is to continually monitor and improve upon, so as to maximize, the correctness of reconstructed architectural landscapes. Hence, inappropriate design departures are always unacceptable. Yet, a design team, that includes historical research staff, may occasionally justify compromise, on a case by case basis only, after comparing an authentic historical design option to a range of lesser correct options. In this instance, compromised reconstruction work shall be declared historically appropriate.

The reasons for historical compromise are severely limited. They are:

In applied history, the goal is to effectively conceal modern intrusions so as to maximize the historical integrity of built lines, levels, and fabrics. However, the limiting reasons for historical compromise may require the occasional intrusion to be necessarily visible. In this case, design shall be patently modern, and installation carried out in such a way as to allow future removal with minimal damage to the reconstructed fabric.

Statement Definitions and Implications


CHAPTER SIX

SITE PRESENTATION WITHIN

AND WITHOUT THE PERIOD PRESENTATION AREA

By Eric Krause , August 21, 1990

(I) GUIDANCE, DIRECTION, AND POLICY

Over the years, The Fortress of Louisbourg as well as both Parks Canada (or Canadian Parks Service) and the Departments of Indian Affairs and of the Environment in generalhave issued numerous plans, initiatives, statements, beaver books, management planning documents, etc.. The idea was that we, the servants of the Canadian public, and answerable to the Queen or her representative, were to accept these views in the spirit of guidance, direction, or policy.

Unfortunately, many of us have chosen to pick and choose from this melange as we have seen fit rather than to regard as complementary. Reproduced below then are but a few of these directions.

The question to keep in mind is:

(A) CULTURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT POLICY

(B) RECONSTRUCTION "AUTHENTICITY" STATEMENT AND PROCESS

(C) CANADIAN PARKS SERVICE STRATEGIC PLAN

(II) THE TAIL WAGGING THE DOG

In the decision making process of THE PROJECT (1961-1982) and of THE PARK (1982 to present), whether involving the immediate "period" setting or the area just outside, sometimes it is the dog that has waged the tail, and sometimes the tail the dog. Significantly, since neither the dog nor the tail can talk, it is our "authenticity" statement which defines for us dog and tail. the tail (approved funding levels, questions of safety, cost effectiveness, etc.) disquietingly wagging the head (historical accuracy) of the dog (re-constructed, re-presented Louisbourg). True, even a dog will have its days, and Louisbourg certainly has had its share, but even when in control of its own tail, it has often been scolded for wagging its tail too vigorously, by masters (both management and support staff) often too at the ready.

The problem, of course, - then as now - is that the masters of Louisbourg's destiny have been inconsistent in their reigning in of the dog's leash. In their training process, some have applied a strict definition of historical accuracy (line, level, and fabric), while others have taken a more lenient approach with interpreting the historical evidence of 18th century Louisbourg. Then there have been those who have not only drawn in the leash, but have required the dog to submissively heal, to policy overtly practiced in the beach but "justified" as a necessary evil, required to get the job done.

Louisbourg's masters have exerted an uneven control of their dog's resurrection and subsequent life-growth for a variety of well-known reasons, not the least of which has been that they were river obliged to adhere to a stringent, controlling "authenticity" statement. As well, for example, budget, personality, discipline, dedication, safety, cost effectiveness, and maintenance concerns have played strong roles in this process.

Today, one's professional gut-feeling, as well as the Department's cultural resource policy for the CPS, ought to be telling us in historical resources that the tail of the dog is in strong control of Louisbourg's destiny. At the moment, "authenticity" (no matter how one might want to define the term) has been set upon a meandering, lulling path where each step forward is one step closer to the last curve hiding its inevitable death.

The question, in my mind, then, is whether historical resources is even aware that this roadway even exists.

(A) OUTSIDE THE RECONSTRUCTED ZONE

In the years since 1961, numerous events illustrate, quite clearly, that the masters of Louisbourg have adhered to a policy that has attempted to minimize the examples of modern intrusions outside the "period setting." That these men and women have been successful, or not, however, has come to depend upon one's point of view rather than upon any stated standard against which to compare the results. For instance, the water tower of the 60's (like the on-site proposed parade ground parking or the King's Garden picnic questions of the 90's) have, like a lighting rod, drawn either severe criticism as a failure of this policy, or, paradoxically, enthusiastically justified as an example of its success.

As you know, a proposed feasibility study for enlarging the parking area behind the museum included an examination of the history of the town block upon which it might come to stand. Interestingly, in the 1970's, a similar proposal envisioned a proposed for across the street east of Block 16. Interestingly, in both cases, cars were regarded as un acceptable erection of a tall fence across from block 16, (to the historians, the fence represented one face of a "Fort Apache"), the hide the cars behind a structure (then the fence, now the museum). In both cases, the greater evil was deemed to be the car; the lesser, the masking agent, the only difference being that one mask was to read as a "very tall" 18th century "fence", while the other as a "fait accomplis" of the 1930's (interestingly, in the early years of the reconstruction, the museum building was regarded as a "modern" eyesore, and, if its "building" usefulness (storage, etc) had not become so needed, it, as late as the early 1970's, would have been either demolished or moved off the site (marked stone by stone) and reconstructed at the then new VRC.

Likewise, years ago, I provided a study of a number of contiguous town blocks (interestingly up the same street upon which the museum building now stands), but clearly outside the "period presentation" area. These areas management had "preconceived" as worthy of inn re-construction, even though, at the time, it was unsure of the "historical justification" for their construction. Notwithstanding, management thought it important to base the project (with a "little" push from the then Senior Historian, on the fact that the re-constructed inns once operated as inns in 18th century Louisbourg on those various locations. In other words, the mask in this case was to be an "authentic" facade, if not, an "authentic" interior as well (we never really got to the question of T.V's, etc., before the project idea was discarded.) In addition, as part of the original team concerned with opening up a walking tour from the "period site" to Rochefort Point, the team proposed (and saw the placement of) interpretive plaques low enough to the ground as to disturb the site line beyond the "reconstructed" zone with as few modern intrusions as possible (interestingly, on the basis that the visitor could not ind the plaques, a subsequent decision raised their heights, but, I believe, the intent at the time remained that they be kept as low as possible - indeed, now with all the well-worn directional paths which now exist, the later decision now seems redundant).

Bill O'Shea has also addressed the question of parking. For example, in the matter of levelling off an area at Black Rock for parking, one concern lay with initiating an EARP to have the location reviewed by the warden service and archaeology. He also has noted the genuine need to provide services to disable visitors who require access, and its anticipated growth over the next 10 to 15 years as the population ages. The bottom line is that this could initiate a complete rethinking of access (use of one of the old Visitor Centre parking lots for disabled parking and stop for the shuttle bus; or the use of the Parade Square).

With respect to the Parade Square option, while Bill notes it would not conflict with our preservation mandate, he does suggest, that tor, at least some, the proposed site "may not have immediate eye-appeal." He then goes on to state that there are, no doubt, "other possibilities" no doubt, but "that in focusing on the Museum House parking area we are not only thinking about obliterating more of the cultural resource, but that it may be a quick fix that is not satisfactory over the long run. In actuality we should be looking to reducing the parking behind the museum."

Many other questions take on the same hue as that of the question of parking, and what is good for the goose could be taken as also good for the gander as well. For example, if management were to decide that cars could be parked on the Parade Square, would not the Meal Presentation team have a justifiable argument in requesting a similar dispensation. For example, the use of the King's Garden, with modern tables, and perhaps a canopy over it, or light structure within (no foundation) for those wet, cold, windy, summer days of Louisbourg.

Interestingly, what the Meal Presentation Team has suggested is nothing that radical (or has it - depends upon one I guess). At any rate, they would like to have picnic tables set up within the confines of the garden. Some have even suggested the justification that the 1953 masonry fence (like the 1935-1936) would even mask this activity from the visitor within the "period" setting (if this is indeed a justification, how does the parade square parking proposal, or even the walking tour plaques justify their existences).

Some have even suggested that a "hidden" picnic area - or an apparent one, but in the guise of one of the 1930's, and so in keeping with the historical age of the Museum (but outlined by a 1953 fence) is preferable to a proposed smaller establishment next to the Grandchamp (as part of a Destouches-Yard complex).

Such thinking, whether one is for or against the King's Garden proposal, is, unfortunately, part of the playing out of the same game - the tail wagging the dog - whether we are talking inside or outside (but yet considered to be a cultural resource) the reconstructed zone. See next for clarification.

(B) WITHIN THE RECONSTRUCTION ZONE

Recent events, such as the question of "phony" steps at the King's Bastion, or the "tripping Hazard" at the DesRoches house, and the continued use of "more" period-looking glasses - but to name a few examples - continue to convince me that the tail (the Visitor, safety questions, etc.) is wagging the dog (historical accuracy, historians, etc). My question, I guess, is at what saw-off point does the dog have a defensible right to follow his or her nose.

Gut-feeling, and even our cultural resource policy, tells me that we have been following the dictates of the tail for far too long now, in a meandering trail leading to who knows what destination. At the recent meeting of Period Presentation, the consensus (at least of those who spoke up) appeared to be that while "obvious" modern intrusions were to be avoided, fakery was o.k.

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