Canada’s National History Society is pleased to announce this year’s shortlist for the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming. The organizations featured represent remarkable and inspiring initiatives that encourage public engagement in Canadian history.
The award will honour two recipients, one French and one English, for innovation in community programming. Organizations receive a cash prize of $2,500 and a trip for two to Quebec City to receive their award.
Congratulations to the featured projects!
La Compagnie Rolland : première papetière canadienne-française au Canada
Histoire et Archives Laurentides
Among the first major industries established in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, the Rolland Paper Company greatly contributed to the industrial and community development of the Laurentian region. With a rich history that began in 1882, this francophone family business established itself in a competitive and mainly anglophone environment, spreading its name in Canada and even beyond. The Société d’histoire de la Rivière-du-Nord (now Histoire et Archives Laurentides) invites everyone to discover the journey of this "homegrown" company through an exhibition presenting several archival documents from different eras, including photographs, letters, and newspaper articles, in addition to audio and video clips.
Guelph Black Heritage Society
Members of the Guelph Black Heritage Society saw a need to change policy and create opportunities for Black voices to be heard. What started with a peaceful protest on June 6, 2020, with over 8,000 people evolved into a project called the #ChangeStartsNow Initiative. This initiative has provided educational programming on Black history and culture with resources on diversity, discrimination, and anti-racism. In 2022, the project produced five short videos about historical members of the Black community in Southwestern Ontario and a booklet about the history of the Guelph British Methodist Episcopal Church.
Sur les traces de Dubuc
La Pulperie de Chicoutimi / Musée régional du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean
Sur les traces de Dubuc is a five-episode narrative podcast set in the early 20th century. This documentary series has listeners follow the footprints of Julien-Édouard-Alfred Dubuc (1871-1947), a man who was integral to the economic development of the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region in Quebec. The series tells a fascinating story of a man whose professional career consisted of life as a banker (1892-1897), industrialist (1897-1923), politician (1925-1945), financier and businessman (1923-1947). Produced and hosted by author and journalist Marie-Julie Gagnon, accompanied by historian and museologist Gaston Gagnon, the series reveals who Dubuc was, his ambitions and his career; his achievements as an influential and important industrialist; his family life through his houses and villas; his political career marked by great achievements; and his archives which perpetuate his traces and his legacy.
Edmonton Queer History Project
MacEwan Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity
The Edmonton Queer History Project was created to highlight queer histories within the local Edmonton community. During a public event held at Michael Phair Park in downtown Edmonton (named after Alberta’s first openly gay politician), four key project components were launched: a multimedia website featuring LGBTQ2+ histories in downtown Edmonton, complimented by an illustrated map and walking tours open to the public; a timeline that documents over forty years of pride activities in Edmonton; and the Queer History Podcast, hosted by local drag queen, author, artist, and community historian Darrin Hagen.
Live Our Heritage / Vivre notre héritage
Heritage Lower St. Lawrence / Héritage Bas-St-Laurent
The dual lingual city of Métis-sur-Mer embarked on a community history project to share the unique story of a small Scottish colony on the shores of the St. Lawrence. Families in this area can trace their lineage back over two centuries across interwoven European and First Nations bloodlines. The project consisted of over fifty oral history interviews, traditional sewing and quilting sessions, and photography workshops comparing archival photos of the landscape. Efforts helped guide family history research, enhance understandings of Indigenous knowledge in the area, and support the creation of new exhibits.
Gorge Park Tea House
Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society
The first Japanese garden and tea house in Canada was created over a century ago on the shores of the Esquimalt Gorge Inlet. There it thrived for over three decades until its owners were forcibly uprooted and interned during the Second World War. Victoria residents at the time looted and destroyed the tea house and garden as well as many other homes and business owned by Japanese Canadians. The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society successfully secured funding to develop and restore this history. The Gorge Park Pavilion recognizes Japanese Canadian history in its design, features a permanent exhibit to educate on the history of the site, and plans on developing future exhibits and programming to continue connections between the Japanese-Canadian community and the wider history of the site.
Montréal en Histoires
The French-language podcast series Passé date? addresses various historically significant subjects in the history of Quebec and Canada. The stories presented span as early as the 16th century and as recent as the 2000s. The different episodes are mainly intended for two audiences — first, Quebec teenagers as part of their history course of Quebec and Canada in Secondary III and IV — but also the general public, especially anyone who wishes to discover the history of the country.
Old Sidney Town Hall Park
City of Quinte West
With a vision in mind, Alexander D. McNaught rallied volunteers, community funding, and City of Quinte West officials to develop and transform a neglected historic site in his community. The Old Sidney Town Hall Park honours the site of the original Sidney Town Hall with the addition of a park that features six plaques, two engraved rock cairns, an impressive entrance arch, and signs that tell fascinating stories of events and people of Wallbridge and Sidney’s past. A continuing tradition in the park, the Ancestral Circle of Stepping Stones, gives the local community a way to connect with and remember their ancestors.
In response to the omission of Black Canadian artistic practices which has long been characteristic of Canadian cultural institutions, Joana Joachim, Ph.D., presented Blackity, the hybrid exhibition of her research that traces the path of contemporary Black Canadian art as evidenced by the Artexte collection between the 1970s and 2010. The archival documentation of these cultural practices has been crucial to their inscription in the collective memory and common discourses of Canadian art. For the first time, Blackity connects these documents and brings together thematic, aesthetic, and conceptual key moments and people — drawing the beginnings of a temporal map of the history of Black art in Canada.
Métis Memories of Residential Schools
Rupertsland Institute / Werklund School of Education
St. Albert, AB
Educational material regarding the Métis experience in residential, industrial, and day schooling was severely lacking — receiving only a small mention in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. In an effort to rectify this, as well as revitalize and reprint the 2004 publication Métis Memories of Residential Schools, A Testament to the Strength of the Métis, the Rupertsland Institute and Werklund School of Education collaborated with the book’s author, Jude Daniels, and Métis Elder Angie Crerar. Many of the publication’s original stories were turned into digital resources, and learning cards featuring mural artwork from local Edmonton artist Lewis Lavoie were created to portray personal and intergenerational stories of Métis experiences in colonial schooling.
Entretiens avec Nonor
Martin Lebrun and Andréanne Béland (Théâtre de l'Escalier rouge)
Entretiens avec Nonor is a radio drama that highlights elements of material and intangible heritage through fiction. The project, set up individually by two artists passionate about history, Martin Lebrun and Andréanne Béland, was carried out thanks to artist grants given by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec in 2021 and 2022. The drama explores vanished places and forgotten events in the Chaudière-Appalaches region in Quebec through the experiences of Nonor, Clara, and Leïla — three generations of the same family. Nonor tells her story through interviews that Clara, her granddaughter, recorded when she was 17 years old and studying at Cégep de Lévis-Lauzon in 1997. These cassette interviews are then discovered in the present day by Leïla, Clara's teenage daughter. Nonor’s stories finally come out of their box, her recorded voice mingling with the tumultuous move of mother and daughter into the family home.
Bury Historical and Heritage Society
The Canterbury Project is an ongoing initiative to restore and preserve the 1896 Christchurch Canterbury to create a new community-based hub as a cultural, artistic, and social centre. Exposed to the elements for nearly 100 years, the dilapidated church had become the last public building in the community still standing. Aspects of the building such as the foundation, bell-tower, and roof had to be restored, along with the 1922 stained glass windows. Engaging the community every step of the way, the Bury Historical and Heritage Society has hosted fundraising events like art, history, and heritage exhibits and community suppers featuring local musicians to support their efforts. The building now hosts annual concerts and exhibits and is a valued part of the the historic Canterbury community.