This New Brunswick experience focuses on bringing the past to vivid life for visitors.
In modern terms, Canada is still a young country. Kings Landing Historical Settlement, set in the St. John River valley, NB, evokes our country’s early days in stunning detail, preserving and showcasing life from 19th-century rural Canada in a unique and engaging way.
The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC)’s Signature Experiences Collection® (SEC) has generated tourism-industry buzz from coast to coast to coast in Canada and in CTC’s key markets around the world. In the last of a 13-part series of CTC News case studies, Kevin Cormier, Kings Landing Historical Settlement Executive Director, explains how living history is a delight and an education to travellers from around the world.
Previous SEC case studies:
Heartland International Travel & Tours
What got you started in the tourism business?
Kings Landing is a Crown corporation of Canada. It started about 40 years ago as a result of infrastructure projects in New Brunswick that threatened at that time to wash away lots of local rural history. To counteract that, Kings Landing was established as a historical and educational organization with an emphasis on preservation.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business today?
Our challenge is not just to continue to preserve our heritage, but to find ways to bring that heritage—those stories, those people and those artifacts—to life. We must continue to be relevant in modern times by reaching into hard-learned lessons from the past to present them in a way that informs, educates and entertains.
What has taught you most in life?
To not be afraid to try new things. Be ready to fail fast, learn from it and move on to the next project.
When did you first hear of SEC?
I first heard about it during its developmental stages. Tourism New Brunswick is heavily involved in experiential tourism product development, so we were talking to Lesley Anderson [CTC manager, Brand Experiences] from the outset.
What motivated you to apply?
If there’s an opportunity to be involved with a premier collection, federal or provincial, and you’re a premier tourism attraction—you need to be involved. You need to be in there. We are very happy to participate.
Tell us more about the Life in 19th Century New Brunswick experience in the Collection.
This experience is the core of what we do at Kings Landing. From the moment visitors enter our world they are immersed, stepping back more than 100 years in time. We ensure exquisite attention to detail, from the complete absence of any technology past the 19th century to the manner in which the guides speak. The tasks of the day, the working practices and the supplies are all authentic to that period. We’re in a rural setting, allowing us to focus on agriculture, such as breeding heritage animals or cultivating apple varieties that were developed here in New Brunswick during the 1800s. Coming to Kings Landing is like walking into another world.
What kind of travellers does your business attract?
All nine Explorer Quotient®traveller types get something out of coming here, especially the Authentic Experiencers, Cultural Explorers and even the No Hassle Travellers. It’s great here for families, where people get a chance to learn about Canadian and New Brunswick heritage, its food and the founding of a country.
What immediate benefits do you see for Kings Landing from being a SEC member?
Primarily the recognition of being a quality product in good, nationwide company. I’m not sure there will be an immediate windfall of visitors, but it will certainly keep us focused on maintaining our attention to detail.
Are you promoting your membership?
Not yet—we will wait until nearer June when our season starts.
Are there specific international markets that you can see Kings Landing gaining extra visitors through the Signature Experiences Collection®?
CTC’s overseas focus is not quite the same as ours. We still rely very much on the domestic market and the US. That said, we would welcome new possibilities for us in the UK and France.