Hey! Aaron here at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

This week I bring you another Service Spotlight! If you didn’t know, a Service Spotlight will be an informal interview with one of Fort Vancouver’s volunteers. Not only will you get to know them better, but you’ll get to see how they bring something special to our volunteer program.

This month I had a chance to talk with Ron Cronin. Ron is a fairly new volunteer to Fort Vancouver NHS, but he’s already found his niche as a living history interpreter as part of our education program. Ron’s dedication to helping with our education program has helped to create a very successful program for local public and private school groups who come to the fort as part of their curriculum. As of this week we have had over 6,000 kids visit as part of our education program and we anticipate having another 6,000 before the start of summer.

Here’s what Ron had to say:

How long have you been volunteering with fort Vancouver?

I’ve only been volunteering at Fort Vancouver for about 1 month, but I’m looking forward to continuing.  It’s great fun.

Which area do you volunteer in now and what do you typically do there?

I mostly work in the Trade Shop, but I would also like to mix in some time in the Chief Factor’s House.  I also plan to take part in the black powder program in the summer, and at the brigade encampment.

How did you come to be a volunteer at Fort Vancouver? What path led you here?

I’ve been dropping by to visit my pal Eugene Carroll in the blacksmith shop, and I’ve been very impressed by the educational experience his presentation has been for visitors.  At first, I signed up for Mike Twist’s black powder demos, and then decided to devote more time to working at The Fort.

I’m attracted to the Trade Shop, and also enjoy the “Big House.”  I guess you can say that the place has grown on me.

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering here at Fort Vancouver?

I enjoy the ambiance of the place, and the team spirit of the rangers and volunteers, all of whom are devoted to providing the best experience for visitors.  I want to be a part of this team.

What keeps you volunteering?

I’ve enjoyed “living history” for a number of years, keeping supposedly archaic skills alive, and Fort Vancouver provides an optimum opportunity to reach more people in a great atmosphere.

What’s the biggest challenge of being a volunteer, and how do you overcome that?

 The only challenge is learning more about the era and the operation at Fort Vancouver, so I can better explain it to visitors.  I’m searching for more books and scholarly research.

What’s one thing you would like to tell people whom come to the fort?

I would tell people that The Fort is an accurate recreation of the original operation, and that they should feel free to fantasize that they’re visiting in 1845.  As of now,it looks rather small, but they should know that it was a large operation in its time, with a village outside the walls and large areas devoted to farming.  Also, it was a multi-cultural community, with dozens of First Nations languages as well as French, English, Gaelic and Hawaiian being spoken about the fort.

Any fun facts about yourself or pieces of information that you’d want others to know?

Before signing as a volunteer here, I had a long career as a rugby football player, coach, and referee.  After a knee injury, I’ve decided to slow down a bit and spend my Saturdays and other weekdays “playing dress up” and helping people learn about the Oregon Territory’s past.  I’m a nature photographer, and have done many projects devoted to local history, like the Oregon Trail.  Fort Vancouver is a great fit for my interests.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

People should come on out and have fun.

Thanks, Ron! Below you’ll find a couple shots of Ron in the Indian Trade Shop. Come stop by and learn all about the trading that took place here at Fort Vancouver!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.