From The Tyee: Vancouver’s Dirty History: A Tour Guide’s Plea
Jessica O’Neill argues that “Vancouver’s history is awash with urban legends, half-truths and untold stories, and these myths are kept alive by tour guides who repeat stories taught to them by companies more concerned with profit than accuracy.” She claims that tour guides “have an obligation to portray [Vancouver’s] often troubled past — and its present — in as accurate a light as possible.” Her solution is “to make sure [her] own tours are as accurate as possible,” by “research[ing] civic history” and maintaining membership in Heritage Vancouver. During her tours, the practical result of her research and general attitude is that she “present[s] multiple possibilities to [her] guests and refuse[s] to shy away from the hard truths.” Her conclusion is that “with few exceptions, this type of tour is sorely lacking in Vancouver.”
In my own tour guiding around Victoria, I have tried to take a similarly critical approach to contemporary issues. My challenge in developing other walks, and in redeveloping these walks for future iterations, is to follow O’Neill’s advice and be more conscious of contentious aspects of each neighbourhood’s history.