...continued from previous page
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
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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