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You hope to [portray] what attributes you take off the page. Now you may have read those attributes wrongly. You might have thought that he was say, a great golfer. So going out and swinging your stick like a golf club might be what you thought he might have done but it's not actually what it was. So you have to be careful about what you take out of the material. You obviously absorb some things unconsciously, so you may project some things you're not even aware of, but about the only person who can really tell you what kind of portrayal you're making is somebody else. I know after a session [in Richfield] if [visitors] ask me questions in the first-person, if they're asking me as if I were Begbie, then I know that bit is certainly working.

You've talked about your personality or character in Barkerville...now how about outside of Barkerville, during the off-season or just in Wells or whatever; do you feel certain aspects of an alter-personality or alter-ego that might be characteristic or borrowed from your Begbie one?

The funny thing is that because things here are done steadily, everyday with the schedule, when your not here you tend to drop that as much as you can. It's not so much of, things carrying-over, as things don't.

Editor's note: Jill Jones, Peter's fiancée and frequent companion takes the opportunity to add several observations...

Jill: There are aspects of your character that, I'm sure reflect Begbie's character.

Peter: Maybe that's because we're the same.

Jill: Yes, that must be the same with nearly everybody. But the authoritarian side of Begbie is there, although you try to hide it.

Peter: I use it a lot on trades people, bank managers and it works quite well <laughs>. I mean you're talking about a pretty well-rounded man, there are so many facets to his character. Everyone automatically does the 'hanging judge' thing but if you look at the number of other qualities, or rather, facets to his personality then you find a whole bunch of stuff that you could relate to, no matter who you were. You could play Begbie, if you like cards or play the piano, speak French &c. He's a wonderful character to play because there is enough stuff there that if you find one bit of him difficult to handle then there are eight or ten other things that are just fine. It's like meeting a new person, you may not like his laugh or his tie but he's a great person.

Do you feel that he had a sense of mission, beyond say, his immediate mandate of bringing 'law and order' to the colony?

No, I think that was probably the main one. This is what he was sent to do and I think he decided he was going to go out and do it...and obviously it took a while to do it. Although, you would have thought that if that was the only thing he might have decamped and gone back to England and got a really good career either there or as Chief Justice [in a warmer, more hospitable clime.] I think he certainly loved British Columbia, he traveled all over, mapped a great deal. I think he admired the miners and the people who suffered [the hardships], 'cause he himself, riding the trail, knew what it was like. He not only admired the people but he wanted to see the colony develop and he did see it develop. So, that was his ultimate mission.

What aspects of the job do you find most rewarding...or least rewarding,?

Most rewarding, I think is if we do a presentation and people obviously got something out of it, be it enjoyment, amusement, some information, a sense of the time and a sense of the place. When they come up to you afterwards and say 'Wow...' If those people go away with a bit more than what they came with then I'm happy.

The downside of it, I suppose, would be the days when it pours rain and you have to walk all the way to Richfield and then somebody arrives who thinks they know all about Begbie and then they take up your entire question period asking questions to see if they can trip you up. They don't want to know, they think they do, to see if you do. That's a real disappointment.

June 12, 1995


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