“Feature” Employee: Joel Konrad

Meet Dr. Joel Konrad. He’s a Cultural Heritage Specialist on our Built Heritage team. This family man loves bridges, playing music, exploring creepy basements and navigating the sea. Okay, that last thing isn’t true… yet.

How did you become a cultural heritage specialist?

Joel during a winter assessment.
Joel during a winter assessment.

I grew up near a nineteenth-century fort on the Penobscot River in Maine and loved exploring the passageways
during family outings. This, and my time playing around archaeological sites in Maine and Montana as a kid, led to an interest in all things historical. By the time I traveled to London in my late teens I was hooked on historic spaces and heritage preservation.

Where did you go to school? 

I completed an MA at the University of Ottawa and a PhD at McMaster University, both in history. In addition, I held a research fellowship at Brown University and completed post-graduate courses in Cultural Heritage Planning at the University of Victoria.

If you weren’t a cultural heritage specialist, what would you be? 

Simon Schama… or a sea captain.

Who is your favourite historical figure and why? 

This is not a fair question to ask an historian. I would probably choose either Theodor de Bry, who created some of the most amazing images and travel compendiums of the sixteenth century (really the world’s first National Geographic editor) or Christopher Wren, who was given the monstrous task of recreating London’s architectural landscape after the fire of 1666. Oh, or Francis Bacon, who was so devoted to his empirical epistemology that he died of pneumonia while attempting to record the preserving properties of extreme cold.

If you were a historic building, what would you be?

Old London Bridge (1209-1762), complete with buildings and houses atop its deck.

What is your favourite site memory?

Finding a ‘lost’ truss bridge in the middle of a mosquito-infested swamp.

My least favourite thing about cultural heritage fieldwork is… 

…fear of the unseen (especially the thought of giant bugs in dingy basements).

To pass the time on site, I… 

…take pictures.

My motto is…

…time is on my side.

When I’m not working, I like to…

In descending order: Family time, biking, playing music, reading, socializing, climbing…

If I could go back in time and excavate any site in the world, I would choose… 

The inside of Hayden White’s mind in 1972, just before the publication of his ‘monumental’ work, Metahistory.