Gabriel and Sarah Chrisman are at Mackin House Museum next week to talk about living a Victorian life — a presentation by the Coquitlam Heritage Society.
The Tri-City News caught up with the Port Townsend, Washington State, residents on Monday to discuss their historical project that officially started on March 12, 2009 — when Gabriel gave his wife a corset for her 29th birthday.
TCN: How and where did you meet Gabriel?
Sarah: We met my freshman year of college; Gabriel was visiting a friend who was my neighbour in the dormitory. This coincidental meeting was fated to be the best thing that happened to either of us.
TCN: What fascinates the two of you about the Victorian era?
Sarah: You’ve asked us to keep our answers to two sentences, but really this would require an entire book! In fact, I’ve written more than one on the subject: the first focused on Victorian clothing, the second on etiquette, the third on the fascinating lessons of everyday technology and I’m currently writing several books into a series of historical fiction about the time.
TCN: What’s the most common reaction you get?
Sarah: Reactions vary by individual and cover a broad spectrum.
TCN: What do you miss the most about today’s society?
Sarah: Nothing. We live this way because we like it.
TCN: What don't you miss about today’s society?
Sarah: Mostly the things people expect us to miss most.
TCN: Where do you get your information from to conduct this lifestyle?
Sarah: Primary sources. We do extensive research on artifacts, in period books, diaries, letters, magazines and archival sources.
TCN: What are you still learning about regarding this period?
Sarah: There is an infinite amount to learn about any culture, especially when one is as fascinated by detail as we are. The subjects and background for my books helps direct our research at any given time.
TCN: Can you tell me more about your Coquitlam presentation, A Victorian Gentleman’s Dressing Sequence?
Sarah: Clothing can be a window into a culture. Our first steps into this lifestyle came from studying Victorian fashion and realizing that there was cultural meaning in every detail; it is one of the most intimate ways possible to understand the past.