Southwest Arm Historical Society finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s History Award

Photo booth picture taken at the History Makers Gala – Lester Green, Elaine Spurrell and Wanda Garrett

This past weekend Wanda Garrett, Lester Green and Elaine Spurrell were delighted to represent the Southwest Arm Historical Society at the 2018 Governor General’s History Award presentation and events in Ottawa. We were not selected as the 2018 recipient, but we were very proud to be selected as one of three finalists from across Canada.

Her Excellency the Right Wanda Garrett, Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, Elaine Spurrell, and Lester Green

The award recognizes projects that foster community engagement in aspects of our history. Two recipients (French and English) were awarded $2500 for their project, and a trip to Ottawa to receive their award at Rideau Hall. Recipients also attended the Canada’s History Forum and History Makers Celebration Dinner held in conjunction with the awards. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the important work that’s being done by community history organizations, and to network with historians, writers, teachers, and history-enthusiasts from all across Canada.

The two award recipients were Shiloh Centre for Multicultural Roots Oral History Project, Edmonton, Alberta and the Mon Velo Ractone, Montreal, Quebec. You can read more about these projects on the Canada’s History website at

Southwest Arm Historical Society highlighted their website and special projects in their application.

  • History Forum

    The Southwest Arm Historical Society website ( was launched on December 1, 2014 and continues to grow. As of May 25, 2018, just 3.5 years after it was launched, the website has 1,385 pages with 4935 images (this includes 241 galleries of photos). The website illustrates all aspects of the history and lives of the people and communities of Southwest Arm.

  • Where once they Served, was a special project to commemorate the 100 anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel. Research was carried out on the 26 men from the area who served with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment during the First World War. Articles were published in The Packet and printed on our website illustrating the individual journey of these soldiers. To conclude this project, we held a special Remembrance Day ceremony at the local school inviting families of these soldiers, the whole school, and a number of special guests. During the ceremony, with the assistance of Lieutenant Governor Frank Fagan, we unveiled 13 memorial banners honouring the veterans. Also, the military records of these veterans were presented in individual booklets. All aspects of this project are recorded on our website.
  • Where once they Sailed, a special project to honour the men who served in the Royal Naval Reserve during the First World War. The lives of these men before, during and after the war were researched and preserved through our website and articles written for The Packet. Once again, we hosted a special ceremony to honour these sailors and unveil special memorial banners.
  • Storyboards – using the information we gathered for the website, we hope to create and place a storyboard in every community, including the resettled communities. We started with Heart’s Ease Beach – the oldest settlement in this area. We are currently working on a storyboard for Southport.

Rideau Hall

On Sunday, Elaine, Lester and Wanda attended the History Forum at Canada’s War Museum. This forum was an opportunity for the award winners to showcase their projects. On Monday they attended the Governor General’s History Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall, presided over by Governor General, Julie Payette. After the ceremony attendees were treated to a lunch and a tour of Rideau Hall. Participants were also invited to skate on the skating rink on the grounds of Rideau Hall. In the evening all three were invited to the History Makers Gala Dinner held at Canada’s War Museum.

Wanda Garrett, Elaine Spurrell, Terra Barrett, Joanna Dawson, and Lester Green

We are also happy to pass on congratulations to Heritage NL public folklorist Terra Barrett, who also attended the awards presentation and events. Heritage NL was another one of the three finalists for their “Oral History Roadshow” project, which saw ten communities record stories about local heritage, everything from goats and jukeboxes, to old shops and traditional crafts. You can view the booklets on their website at   


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