On a sunny day in May 2011 I nearly took an accidental swim in a Dutch canal. In a dramatic turn of events – dramatic for a bike tour of the sedated village of Edam – I caught my foot under a bollard and launched forwards, landing on the weathered cobblestones mere inches from the town’s main canal. I was bruised, I was embarrassed, and I was the laughing stock of my tour group.
Oh, and I was wearing clogs.
This story represents my never-ending, sometimes bumpy, and often entertaining encounters with history, tourism and culture. Today, that fateful clog sits in its full glory, complete with bollard scar, on my hearth to remind me of my travels, my heritage, and my connection to other people.
Like the first time walking in wooden shoes, exploring culture can be exciting, revealing, slippery, painful, and hilarious all at once.
I’m Ben Fast and I walk in wooden shoes.
This website is devoted to my exploration of culture, history, tourism, museums, and the interaction of people with cultural institutions. My passion for museums and continued education have shaped my career goals of helping organizations connect with and grow their audiences in a sustainable and meaningful way. I hope to be part of a museum or institution on the cutting edge of audience engagement and interaction as the cultural heritage field moves into a new audience-focused and technology-driven age.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in History (with honours) from the University of Victoria and a Master of Arts in Tourism Management from Royal Roads University. In these two degrees I learned about historical context, social engagement, and the business of heritage tourism. As a UVic student I focused on social history, the impact of war, connections between cultures, and public history. I wrote my honours thesis about the impact of the First World War on Canadian soldiers’ notions of masculinity through studying their letters home and contemporary literature. My Professional Writing Minor in Journalism and Publication also taught me the nuances of writing for a variety of audiences through a variety of mediums.
My MA in Tourism Management took a more business-focused look at museums and heritage tourism, a good fit with my past studies in history. My courses covered a broad variety of subjects from Tourism Leadership to Product and Market Development and Research Methodology. Global Tourism provided an opportunity to study the impacts of tourism on people around the world, as well as learning about the industry on a global scale, while Strategic Tourism Marketing taught me skills easily adaptable to my co-op and internship positions. I was given the opportunity to transfer in two courses from the Cultural Resource Management program at UVic. Dr. Candace Matelic’s Social Engagement course focused on how museums can be forces for good within their communities, covering the history of museums as social institutions through to the major changes happening in the industry as it moves into this millennium. This course, as the final course of my degree, made me examine closely the relationship between museums, communities and tourism principles, inspiring me in my future work and drawing all my past studies together into one stream of thought and professionalism.
My work experience has been varied but has often given me the opportunity to witness peoples’ interaction with heritage and culture. To learn more about my CV, please click here.
In brief, I have been a:
- Tour guide at Craigdarroch Castle Historic House Museum (Victoria, BC)
- Tour guide and educator at the Juno Beach Centre (Normandy, France)
- Arts festival co-ordinator and event host for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Victoria, BC)
- Researcher and content developer for the University of Victoria’s A City Goes to War project (Victoria, BC)
- Marketing and business development intern with Parks Canada (Victoria, BC)
- Heritage tourism marketing contractor for Heritage BC and the BC Museums Association (Victoria, BC)
- Guest editor for Curious, Royal BC Museum (Victoria, BC)
- Curatorial programming contractor for the Yukon Transportation Museum and the Copperbelt Railway & Mining Museum (Whitehorse, YT)
- Digital, exhibitions and archives intern at the Royal BC Musuem (Victoria, BC)
- Tour guide for SeaQuest Explorations (Victoria, BC)
My volunteer experience is just as varied, from being the founding editor for the UVic’s undergraduate history review, The Corvette, to playing music in my community and working with children at summer camps.
When I’m not buried in school work you can find me playing music, taking photos, reading history, watching story-driven television, listening to podcasts, spending time with friends, or, of course, exploring museums.