Name: Kayla Jonas Galvin
Employer: Heritage Resources Centre (HRC), University of Waterloo
Job Title: Heritage Planner
What are the regular tasks for your job?
The Heritage Resources Centre is a research centre at the University of Waterloo that deals with issues in built and cultural heritage. At any one time we are working on multiple projects. Our team divides the projects so that we get to work as project manager of some projects and assistant on the others. In a given week, I’m conducting site visits, writing reports, meeting with project partners, presenting results to organizations or city councils, researching in archives or working on an upcoming workshop.
What is the best part of your job?
The job has lots of variety in terms of tasks and involves exploring many different places. In one recent project I traveled to 23 different Ontario municipalities. Because of this variety I get to learn the history of different areas of the province, which I love.
Another aspect of my job that I love is that we get to invent new ways of doing things. I am the lead of a new project called Building Stories — an online, interactive inventory for historic places in Canada. The aim is for Canadians to crowd source historic sites of interest. Anyone can sign in and add a site, or add information to an already-identified site.
I also love the communications part of my job. I run the HRC blog, twitter accounts for the HRC (@HRCHeritage) and Building Stories (@bldg_stories) and facebook accounts of our office. It’s a great way to keep updated on the industry and find out about events in other areas of the province.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The biggest challenge of my job is juggling all the different projects. It’s challenging to balance report writing with site visits, while scheduling time to promote the projects. I could not do it without detailed work plans for each project and my day planner.
How did you get interested in history?
I feel like I fell into the heritage field, and then fell in love with it. As an undergrad, I took Environment and Resource Studies with a joint major in Anthropology. After doing several co-op terms working in the environmental field, I decided to pursue something more in anthropology and got a job at the Heritage Resources Centre working on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. I’ve been working there ever since.
Looking back to my teenage years I can see now I loved history, but I just did not recognize it. I loved museums, especially history ones. Discovery and History channel documentaries would captivate me, and almost all my European trip photos are of buildings. I think history/heritage is a bit of a hidden field, but I’m glad I found it.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in a similar job?
Being a Heritage Planner requires some training in the field of planning. Although I started with some planning knowledge in my undergrad, I’m now pursing my Masters in Planning.
I’ve found that volunteering outside my job has lead to great opportunities in the heritage field more broadly. I sit on the board of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, and started a student and young professionals group called ACO NextGen. I’ve met many people organizing and attending ACO events.
My blog, AdventuresInHeritage.com has also opened up doors for me. For instance, it's how I got asked to write this profile! It has also led to guest writing opportunities on This Big City, and Active History.