Quetico’s oral histories have been locked away on archival cassettes at the John B. Ridley Research Library — until now. Courtesy of history enthusiasts from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, they have come out of the vault and into our ears.
By digitizing our 400 (yes, 400) interviews, we hoped to preserve and share Quetico’s stories, in order to build connections to the people who travel here. Also, magnetic cassettes have a finite lifespan. As many of the interviews were conducted in the late ’70s and early ’80s, digitizing became a priority for the archive.
We had serendipitous timing with most of the digitization being completed in 2019. Many of our remote entry station rangers found themselves available to help listen, catalogue, and code the recordings, because of the later opening date due to the Covid pandemic in Spring 2020. The goal is to have them all coded by next summer.
Large photo above: Elizabeth Liska, University of Wisconsin Whitewater, and Jill Legault, Quetico Provinical Park digitizing in the John b. Ridley Library in 2019. “We found a tape in Anishinaabemowin,” they said.
Small photo above: Some of the many voices we heard (from left to right): Shan Walshe, Mary Jourdain, Sigurd Olson, Sally Burns and John Jamieson