January 16th, 2021

Canada Day brings visitors to Galt, Fort

By Jensen, Randy on July 2, 2020.

Families spent their Canada Day learning about the local history that took place in the river valley at Fort Whoop-Up with tours, horse rides and celebrations. Herald photo by Greg Bobinec @GBobinecHerald

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald


Although COVID-19 restricted many events and gatherings for Canada Day, many families took to local historic sites that recently opened to celebrate and learn about Canadian history.

On a normal Canada Day, Fort Whoop-Up is a popular venue for families, but with some changes and limited space, the Fort was able to open but to a smaller crowd than usual.

“Normally, Canada Day is one of our busiest days, we usually have several hundred visitors coming through the Fort,” says Darrin Martens, CEO and executive director of Fort Whoop-Up and the Galt Museum and Archives. “Because of COVID-19, we have had to restrict that to 10 visitors per hour and the reason for that is because a lot of the interpretive areas throughout the Fort are very small, so in order to control social distancing as well as keep our staff safe, we’ve had to go down to that smaller amount.”

With limited access to the Fort, it allowed staff to enhance the personal visitation experience by having small group guided tours throughout the facility, allowing people to get a better understanding and ask more questions about the history of the area.

“We have also enhanced the visitation as opposed to people doing self-guided tours where they would normally wander around, discussing with interpreters throughout the area. What we are doing now is guided tours of 10 and they go through the entire Fort with the group and over to the wagon rides and hopefully have a good day,” says Martens. “We have been working on enhancing the engagement with visitors so that they feel like they have a good value for their dollar for paying admission and really having that one-on-one is much more important now to have through our tour.”

Galt Museum & Archives also celebrated Canada Day with cupcakes for the public, as well as a free visit to the museum to discover the different decades of Lethbridge’s and southern Alberta’s history.

Canada Day is celebrated in many ways, from families and friends coming together for a celebratory day, to people wanting to learn about the history of the land they call home. Martens says Canada Day is not only a day to celebrate the history of Canada, but also a good time to look with a critical eye and learn from the nation’s past.

“Canada Day is a wonderful day for us as Canadians to look forward to the kind of Canada that we want,” says Martens. “I think in order to do that, it is important for us to look back and I think we have the luxury now that we can look back with a critical eye and see and understand better what our ancestors have done, what they believed in their time was correct, and I think we can address that and I think that is something we are very conscious of at the Fort as well as at the Museum, so that we do look at history through a critical eye. In particular, through how settlers worked well with some Indigenous communities throughout Canada, but also looking at a cultural genocide type of lens as well which I think is really important.”

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