By Sarah Ehler
For The Spectator
ANNAPOLIS COUNTY - MAPANNAPOLIS.CA has been named one of five finalists for this year’s Governor General History Awards for Excellence in Community Programming.
For five years, many volunteers have been building this historical mapping resource for Annapolis County.
“This award validates the project. It gives credit to the people who have worked so hard,” says Heather LeBlanc, project manager of MAPANNAPOLIS.CA: The Annapolis Community Mapping Project, and resident of Granville Ferry.
She travelled to Ottawa on Nov. 22 with Ed Symons, chairman of the Age Advantage Association, which began the project to be a part of the Governor Generals ceremony.
“It was an honour to represent so many people who have been involved in this project from the beginning,” she says. “Without them, there would have been no award.”
She called the event itself a “wonderful celebration and incredibly stimulating” and added that it was a great way to move the project ahead.
“We had an opportunity to discuss our project and share in dialogue on future visions with award winners from across the country as well as speakers and other delegates at the conference and award ceremonies,” she said.
About the award
This award recognizes innovative projects developed by organizations dedicated to culture, community life, and heritage, which encourage the dissemination of history by citizens in the community.
The two criteria for the award were innovation in planning and a strong community.
This project is made up of three partners: the Age Advantage Association which began the project in 2012, students and faculty of the Centre for Geographic Sciences (COGS) and the Environmental Sciences Research Institute (ESRI Canada), which provides free world-leading mapping software.
LeBlanc learned about the anonymous nomination for the award in April. Once the group accepted the nomination, they prepared a large package to prove the criteria and included many supportive letters from community members.
“This award and subsequent exposure will compel people to explore MAPANNAPOLIS and learn what has been accomplished by volunteers in their own community,” says LeBlanc. “We want the community to use the information and learn from it. “
Since the award was announced, LeBlanc has already been contacted about future partnerships that will benefit the project and the community.
This year, Parks Canada’s Fort Anne National Historic Site partnered with the Age Advantage Association to create the definitive online map of its Garrison Graveyard, another significant historical and genealogical layer. Students of COGS surveyed each grave as part of their regular course work.
This will add to the already comprehensive mapping information shared on the website such as the location of 43 wharves along the Annapolis River Estuary, a map covering 160 years of Black Loyalist properties and structures, surveys of 176 graveyards and churches and digitized maps of Acadian homesteads from the 1600s and 1700s.
With the goal to continue to broaden the resource by attracting new volunteer communities, cultural mapping broadens self-awareness and understanding about culture and diversity.
“It is richly rewarding helping to facilitate community members who are willing to spend countless hours researching and sharing their knowledge and passion with the larger community. It is also enormously beneficial to the greater public good for all of us to gain a greater appreciation of the assets within our communities, whether they be cultural, economic, environmental or social,” says Symons, who is also an instructor at COGS. “I am proud to work with the Nova Scotia Community College whose mandate aligns so well with this very worthwhile endeavour.”
Go online: MAPANNAPOLIS.CA is full of historical information about Annapolis County. See the website for more information.