Balancing the Quirky

I've always been attracted to quirky stories -- in life and in history. Quirky stories are the ones I find most interesting; the ones I like to research; and (I'm very happy to say) the ones that audiences and visitors respond to most positively. There are few things better than a quirky, compelling anecdote to get people to pay attention. When I overhear people passing on stories I've told, it's almost always this part of the presentation that gets passed on. These funny little bits are the part of the stories that are remembered. And this holds true for children and adults.

But as a historian and a teacher I'm often left wondering, is it enough? Because quirky stores are so powerful and memorable, do they create incorrect assumptions and fail to provide the appropriate level of balance? Or are these sorts of stories a starting point of getting people interested in history and which will eventually lead many of them to a better understanding of history? I don't have an answer. I just keep using whatever tools I have to get people more interested in history and to develop their knowledge of history.

So when Chinook Country Tourism approached me about writing compelling stories of Lethbridge history for this year's Lethbridge Guide these were the sort of thoughts going through my head.

I wanted fun, exciting, little known, slightly titillating, compelling stories that made people want to read and share the history page. But I also didn't want people reading it and thinking this was the entirety of Lethbridge history.

I hope that when the Lethbridge Guide 2011 comes out later this spring you'll take a look at it and judge for yourself whether or not I hit the right balance. Personally, I think anytime you can cover everything from a 15 pound baby to a surgery involving a dog's bone to the first airflight over the Rocky Mountains in less than 1000 words, it's been a fun article to write. Hopefully it's also an equally interesting article to read.

The Galt will be posting some of the quirky stories to our Fans starting next week so you'll get an advance read of some of the stories soon to hit the brochure rack.