Neil Orford

Recipient of the 2013 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching 

November 19, 2013
Canada's History speaks to Neil Orford about his collaborative classroom project based in archival research.

Centre Dufferin District High School, Shelburne (Ontario)

Neil Orford has a deep passion for engaging students in the joy of learning history. He combines his students’ natural wonder of hands-on history with his commitment to the rigours of teaching. Much of his students’ learning often takes place outside the classroom, where they meet experts in the field and people who have lived through the history being taught. From Grades 10 to 12, students follow a course that culminates in the Centre Dufferin District High School/Dufferin County Museum and Archives Battlefields Project. One of the only formal partnerships between a school and municipal museum and archives in Canada, the project gets students working directly with archivists and museum staff to conduct oral history and online research. The goal is to contribute research to the Dufferin County Virtual War Memorial  — a digital database of over 5,000 veterans from Dufferin County, Ontario. Students build enduring relationships with staff, veterans, and their community and contribute new knowledge to a remarkable local narrative of national significance.  This partnership model is uniquely Canadian and comes from more than 27 years of classroom teaching, experimentation, and innovation.