BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

The Official Heritage Fairs Student Site

Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site — February 29, 2020

Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site

by Liam, Junior Council

Have you ever heard of Fort Rodd Hill?  It is one of my favourite historical places on Vancouver Island and it is a National Historic Site. I attended the BC Provincial Heritage Fair last summer which included a field trip to this historic site, and it was amazing to learn so much about the history!

Photo credit: BCHFS Archives

Fort Rodd Hill is a historical military fortress that was active for over 50 years (1895 to 1956) during the First and Second World Wars.

Photo credit: BCHFS Archives

It would defend the Canadian West Coast and was designed to protect against sea attacks. There are command posts, secret bunkers, barracks, underground magazines, and many other things to protect and repel threats.

The site is now a historical museum with lots of information about it and what was taking place in the world when it was operating.

I could spend a whole day exploring the buildings and the site, and you can even go inside the Fisgard Lighthouse. The Fisgard Lighthouse was built in the mid 1800’s and back then the government paid lighthouse keepers just over $100.00 per year.

Fisgard Lighthouse circa 1920s, taken from: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/bc/fortroddhill/culture/fisgard-lighthouse

Between 1860 and 1928, 12 people (including one woman) served as keepers at Fisgard Lighthouse:

  • George Davies, 1860–1861
  • John Watson, 1861
  • W.H. Bevis, 1861–1879
  • Amelia Bevis, 1879–1880
  • Henry Cogan, 1880–1884
  • Joseph Dare, 1884–1898
  • W. Cormack, 1898
  • John Davies, 1898
  • Douglas MacKenzie, 1898–1900
  • Andrew Deacon, 1900–1901
  • George Johnson, 1901–1909
  • Josiah Gosse, 1909–1928
Photo credit: BCHFS Archives

Ways to be Creative & Ways to Display your Heritage Fair Project — February 28, 2020

Ways to be Creative & Ways to Display your Heritage Fair Project

by Christi, Senior Council


Two of the most common questions that teachers and mentors receive are: How do I be creative with my project? and How should I display my project? It’s so easy to slap the material on the tri-fold board and call it a day, but being able to arrange your ideas in a creative and thoughtful way requires a little more additional scheming. 


First, it is important to note that this is your project. Although it is all about Canadian history, judges will always look to see if you have included your personal ideas and opinions. Your thoughts show that you have used critical thinking, and that you’ve analyzed every minuscule detail; the true qualities of a young historian! Try to consistently incorporate your unbiased thoughts into your interview and into your display, and be sure to always keep it in relation to your inquiry question. 


Throughout my four years of creating successful heritage fair projects, I’ve noticed that including a creative aspect always impresses. While only some regions require you to have a creative aspect, it is smart to have at least one nonetheless. It shows that you have put in the effort to go above and beyond simply writing facts and paragraphs. And, a creative aspect can pretty much be anything! Judges love to see something in your display that you have made from scratch. One idea is to have an artifact as a creative element.


For example, if you are creating a project on Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer in the 1600’s, you can make an old looking map of the areas in Canada that he colonized, or a message in a bottle. If you are creating a project on Women’s Suffrage, you can dress to impress by wearing 19th century apparel during your interview, or you can add to your project display by decorating your title board with eye catching, authentic looking protest signs. If you are creating a project about Canada’s role in The Second World War, you can make a journal with entries written from the perspective of a Canadian soldier in the Dieppe Raid. The possibilities are endless! 


While brainstorming for more ways to improve your project, Rachel, the Alumni Program Manager, introduced me to Sarah McLeod, who is a teacher librarian from South Vancouver Island. She is pushing her students to branch out from using the standard tri-fold board. They had a mission to be less wasteful with their materials and resources so that they can comply with their school’s policy of reduce, reuse, and recycle. Basic materials such as cardboard and paper were repurposed to display their project in a creative way. This is a great idea that is sure to stand out!


Here are two great examples of Sarah’s student’s projects:

Left: This student wrote a book, and displayed her images using CD’s and picture frames found around her school; Right: This student made a suitcase out of cardboard to present the information.


Your project display is extremely important. This is what gives your audience their first impression of your project. Obviously, it should be appealing to the eye, but it also should be able to provide anyone with an idea of what your topic is about with one glance. A good project display is able to tell a Canadian story all on its own. While most projects look neat and tidy, only a few look unique and inspiring. 


At the starting level, a satisfactory display will have a few Canadian symbols, but it may not relate specifically to your topic. Try to stay away from the most basic designs such as the Canadian maple leaf, because it’s something everyone can do and it isn’t individual to your project. As you elevate your project display to the more advanced level, you should start to add more intricate and thoughtful visuals that are designed to command attention and give the wow-factor.


Here is one simple test you can do to see if your project has a good display. If you cover up the title, are you still able to tell what the project is about? 

project by: Unknown

This project is about Japantown. It has a good display because if you take the title away, you can tell that the topic is about something in relation to Japan. The symbol that gives this away is the cherry blossom. The neat borders around the text and images help to make the project look more put together.

project by: Colin Yeung, Richmond Regional Heritage Fair 2017

This student has added a few creative elements to his project about Chris Hadfield. It has a beautiful design of a spaceship’s window in the middle, and if you look through it, you can see Earth and the moon. The text and images are arranged very carefully and neatly. This is an excellent project display.


I hope this provided some helpful insight on what judges are looking for, and gave some inspiration on what you can do creatively for your project. Best of luck and have fun at Heritage Fair!

How to Choose a Heritage Fair Topic — February 5, 2020

How to Choose a Heritage Fair Topic

Did you know that over on our Instagram we’ve been doing #FairFridays? If not, now you do! Last week, Julia spoke about how to choose a Heritage Fair topic. Rachel has also been sharing topic ideas with #TopicTuesday! As you can tell, topics and how to pick them have really been on our minds here at Alumni HQ. Here’s Leona with a blog post with even more information about how to choose your Heritage Fair topic!

by Leona, Senior Council

When it comes to choosing a heritage fair topic, it is easy to understand why it may be difficult. I’ve participated in the Heritage Fair for 3 years, and I made sure to choose a meaningful topic each year. When you choose a topic that genuinely interests you, the project-making experience will be ten times better. There are many different logistical things to consider when choosing a heritage fair project topic. 


  1. Is there sufficient information on this topic? Are there several resources I could use to get information on this topic? Are there both primary and secondary sources?
  2. Can I personally relate to this topic? Does it interest me?
  3. Will my targeted audience be able to relate and understand this topic? Will they find it interesting?
  4. Is this topic important and worth sharing with my community? 


You can easily start your topic picking with a history-related topic you already know of; perhaps something you’ve learnt in social studies class this year that made you sit at the edge of your seat in eager anticipation to learn more. Take a look around you, in your home, where you can find fascinating heritage stories hidden in the photographs and souvenirs that your family holds tight. Or take a walk in your community and look at the buildings, monuments, and memorials that may perhaps inspire you to do a little more research. Is there someone you look up to, whether a family member or a famous politician? Can you imagine the incredible stories the friendly neighbourhood grandma has been eagerly waiting to tell? Heritage fair is an opportunity to give those who are often left unheard, a voice; a voice to tell their insightful stories to the community, through our youth with you! 


Make connections with your community and ask your family and friends about their life stories. Whether it’s their immigration or experiences with war, may that inspire you to go further and research (for example) on the Chinese Immigration Act or World War II. Visit a local museum and allow yourself to be swept away in the rich history the simple architecture and battle weapons on display may have to offer.


What are some current events that catch your interest? It could be the government system and how it has come to be with the influences of incredible politicians, or it could be the history of viruses in Canada. There are endless possibilities of topics linked with current events happening today. 


Don’t stress about choosing a topic because eventually, something inspiring will come to you. A great heritage fair topic is one that you could do never-ending research on. A deep thinking heritage fair topic is one that your questions are never-ending for. Best of luck!