Don’t know where to get started? We’ve come up with a list of examples of questions you might ask your interviewee to get the ideas flowing. Remember you can sit down and have a chat with them before the interview, and plan your questions by finding out more about events and life experiences your interviewee lived through. Come prepared, but also remember to be ready to follow your interviewee if they lead you on to a new topic!
What has your experience as a Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), Peskotomuhkatiyik (Passamaquoddy), or Wabanaki person been like as a resident of the Province of New Brunswick?
New Brunswick is home to three of the tribes of aboriginal people who make up the Wabanaki Confederacy. If the interviewee is an indigenous person, this question could touch on both their identity as an indigenous person and their relationship with the Province of New Brunswick. Another alternative question along these lines could be “What does being an aboriginal person in New Brunswick mean to you?”.
What is it like to live in a border community?
Many of Charlotte County’s larger communities are located near or directly along the border with the United States. St. Stephen (New Brunswick) and Calais (Maine) in particular, are often seen as practically being one community separated by an international boundary. A potential addendum to this question could be “How have COVID-19 border restrictions affected yourself and your community?”
How has living next to the Bay of Fundy affected your everyday life?
The Bay of Fundy is an important natural and cultural resource for the people of Charlotte County, with many residents whose careers are directly tied to it (such as through fishing, tourism, etc…). Another alternative question could be something along the lines of “Is living next to the Bay of Fundy part of your personal identity?”.
What is your favorite place in Charlotte County?
Charlotte County is home to a number of interesting places, both man-made and natural. Everyone who lives here likely has a personal connection to at least one of them. Be sure to follow up with questions about why that is their favorite place. You could ask “Is there a particular story you want to share related to your favorite place?”.
Do you have any memories from when the St. Croix Cotton Mill closed in 1957?
The St. Croix Cotton Mill was the center of Milltown’s economy during its years of operation from 1882 to 1957. Its closure was a blow to the community which caused many of its residents to become unemployed and forced them to seek work elsewhere. Many older people from the Milltown area would have memories of this event. If you’re interviewing someone who used to work at an old business institution like the St. Croix Cotton Mill, ask them what their experience was like.
How do you feel about Charlotte County’s economy shifting from trade and manufacture to tourism and aquaculture?
It wasn’t long ago that the Charlotte County region had several thriving industries in lumbering, mills, quarrying, fishing, and manufacture, but by the mid-20th century many of these industries had declined. Today Charlotte County’s economy has many residents employed in tourism or aquaculture. Another follow up question to this topic could be “How do you feel about the future of Charlotte County?”.
Do you feel a personal connection to the history of Charlotte County?
The history of Charlotte County, especially the history of the larger communities such as St. Stephen and St. Andrews, is heavily promoted today as part of our tourism industry. It’s clear that many Charlotte County residents feel a personal connection to that history. For example, some would still label St. Andrews as a “Loyalist Town” even today. You could also ask “What does living in a Loyalist Town mean to you?”, or something similar along those lines for other communities in Charlotte County.
How did you come to live in Charlotte County?
Although there are people today in Charlotte County who are members of families who have been living here for generations, there are also many others whose families moved here relatively recently. There are many reasons someone might choose to move to Charlotte County, be it for career opportunities, or something else about the area that appealed to them. Another alternative way to word this question could be “Where did your family originally come from?”
Is there a particular Charlotte County event or tradition you have fond memories of?
From St. Stephen’s Chocolate Fest, St. Andrews’ many performances and art shows, and concerts and other get-togethers throughout the county, there are many Charlotte County events and traditions which have endured over the years. You could also follow up with questions like “Are there any particular stories from one of these events that you wanted to share?”.
Do you have any memories of particularly hard winters or major storms that hit the area?
Being so close to the Atlantic Ocean, the Charlotte County region has seen its fair share of storms that left significant damage in their wake, such as the Groundhog Day Storm of 1976.
Do you know any stories or have any memories of family members who served in the First or Second World Wars?
Despite being so far from any of the battles occurring overseas, Charlotte County still felt the impact of the First and Second World Wars. Many people from Charlotte County volunteered for service, and the impact of wartime rationing was felt here as well.
What was it like going to school in Charlotte County?
New Brunswick’s education system has changed a lot over the years, with the most significant recent change occurring in the mid-twentieth century. The wave of school reform which occurred during this time lead to the closure of smaller, usually one-room schools in an effort to better consolidate New Brunswick’s students and its education system. Residents who can remember the old one-room schools likely had a very different experience getting their education than students in New Brunswick today.
Are there any traditional Charlotte County stories or songs you want to share?
These could be anecdotes from your family’s history or traditional stories and songs that have been passed on. Alternatively, you could ask “Do you have a favourite Charlotte County story or song?”.