Bruce Thomson has demonstrated amazing dedication to preserving and sharing our province’s heritage and history, particularly Queens County’s. He started working for Queens County Heritage (QCH) as a summer student, learning the rules of caring for collections and the role of greeting and hosting the public at Tilley House. After obtaining Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in history he went on to build a career in museums and is currently employed at the New Brunswick Museum. He is a respected professional and very generous in sharing his expertise. He assists in presentations of weaving at Kings Landing, has made presentations at the AHNB annual conference and developed and hosted webinars in the AHNB series from digitization to collections management to exhibitions. He has served on the Board of AHNB and enthusiastically welcomed members to the Queens County “heritage hub” at their 2018 conference.
Most outstanding, however, is Bruce’s work for QCH for over three decades. He has served as a staff member of Queens County Heritage, Board member, serving as Treasurer and currently President since 2007. He is a committed volunteer, a patient teacher, a historian deeply rooted in the Queens County community, an inclusive leader, and jack of all trades. He takes QCH’s mandate to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of the county exceedingly seriously but with a kind sense of humour and continuously brings to bear his high standards of museum professionalism. While he holds leadership positions in QCH Inc., chairing annual general meetings and board meetings, but can also be found mowing the lawn at the Court House and Tilley House and rolling up his sleeves with the rest of the volunteers at the annual spring clean up. He has a talent for writing and performing historic re-enactments and has written the scripts for the annual ghost walks, the Gulliver’s & Ghosts fundraising dinners, and tours in the Village of Gagetown and elsewhere around the County. He is amazing to watch as he transforms into the character of a very convincing and well-informed Sir Leonard Tilley. He brings an experienced hand to grant-writing for summer and permanent exhibitions as well as collection improvement and summer student employment applications. His encyclopedia knowledge of the QCH collection guide the exhibition committee in curating summer exhibitions that highlight items in the collection. In 2020 alone, with students he created over 50 short videos promoting summer activities and collections.
He produces a quarterly QHS newsletter and is creative in looking for ways to expand fundraising. QCH has extended its footprint in Queens County over the years from the Tilley House, then the Court House, then the Anthony Flower house in Cambridge Narrows to Loomcrofters in 2014. Bruce has been instrumental in extensive research on all of these historic structures and is still uncovering information that is giving us a better glimpse into Queens County and New Brunswick history.
Bill has been Treasurer of the Highland Society of New Brunswick Miramichi for over 22 years and was an active member for many years before that. He has been a very loyal steward to the Society, managing its resources and advising the executive committee as to the mandate as established in 1846. Bill has been a guiding light for many years, providing counsel and securing resources as to honor the intentions of benefactors.
The Highland Society of New Brunswick Miramichi takes pride in its ability to provide a substantial number of educational scholarships to students pursuing post-secondary and graduate studies. The Society has also been able to make donations to various causes that support Scottish heritage and charities. These initiatives are in large part due to Bill’s steadfast management of the Society’s resources.
Bill has been the Highland Society’s representative on the provincial Scottish Heritage Portal – a major project over several years that took a lot of work and resources by volunteers from the whole province. He has always been willing to take on new projects and to further our support of MacDonald Farm which the Highland Society took over from the provincial government in 2012.
Bill is an inspiration to the Society with his enthusiasm and dedication encouraging many new members to join the Society.
Covered Bridges Conservation Association of New Brunswick – Award of Distinction:
The Covered Bridges Conservation Association of New Brunswick (CBCANB) came into being in March 2018 to draw attention to the precarious situation of New Brunswick’s iconic covered bridges. CBCANB organized rallies at a number of covered bridges and over 1000 individuals signed a petition to indicate their support for the preservation of these bridges.
Under the leadership of Ray Boucher, CBCANB President, a meeting was arranged with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure where the petition was presented. CBCANB has maintained relationships with various politicians and through its President promoted the preservation of our covered bridges in numerous media interviews. The Association organized and hosted a seminar featuring an international expert in wood structures to outline the advantages of wooden bridges, their durability, and the action needed for their proper maintenance.
CBCANB’s efforts to promote the covered bridges of New Brunswick have drawn a great deal of interest and support, not just locally, but also internationally, particularly through its association with the American National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges. Through CBCANB’s collaboration and assistance with logistics the President of the American organization, Bill Caswell, brought their annual covered bridge bus tour to New Brunswick. Thirty-one people from ten states came to New Brunswick and toured twenty-six covered bridges over a three-day period, an undertaking that was covered by the press and television and with local politicians attending events.
CBCANB played a significant role in influencing the provincial government to develop to develop a strategy to conserve our covered bridges for future generations. The organization has involved AHNB in its efforts to draw attention and build support for the preservation of our covered bridges – promoting our New Brunswick Day “Love Your Covered Bridge” contest, involving AHNB in meetings with politicians and inviting us to participate in events they organize. The CBCANB has done much of the heavy lifting in work to promote our covered bridges and much of the credit for raising awareness of the importance of saving and preserving these unique heritage structures can be attributed to the dedicated efforts put forward by their President and members.
The Award of Distinction is presented this year to the Musée Acadien de l’Université de Moncton. This group is celebrating their 25th anniversary for their exceptional educational programing. Due to the museum’s vast collection, requests from schools in southeastern New Brunswick are common, and as a result, the Museum has created educational programing over the years in both official languages so everyone could participate. Due to the cultural and academic content of their workshops many people have benefited, and the wide variety of Acadian themes has generated a huge interest among all participants. New workshops have been created using objects, to coincide with specific activities that follow teaching trends and new methods of cultural mediation.
The impact that this has had on the recipients of this program, both in schools and in the community, has been to create a greater sense of belonging to one’s culture. The importance of sharing their vast collection for educational purposes has created an important relationship between the Musée acadien de l’Université de Moncton and the local schools. The programing has also increased community awareness in just how educational museums really are. It is with great pleasure that we present the Prix de Distinction 2020 to the Musée Acadien de l’Université de Moncton, for its 25th anniversary educational program project.
Ed Caissie has shown continuous leadership, dedication and energy in starting and maintaining the Internment Camp Museum at Minto and in developing and preserving the original WW2 Internment Camp site at Ripples New Brunswick for the past 25 years. Mr. Caissie’s efforts have preserved this aspect of New Brunswick’s history that would otherwise have been lost.
His work has not only resulted in the preservation of this history, but also has brought the history to life for many families from all over the world that have a relationship with the people of the internment camp history.
The project began when Ed Caissie, a Minto teacher, developed alternative programming for junior high school students. It started with 12 students and eventually expanded to 60. Initially, the students created a scale model of the 58-acre camp and its 52 buildings. When these students dug for facts, they did it literally. An expedition to the site with picks and shovels unearthed a find of kitchen items and other material remains from the camp that were buried three feet down. Today a map of the camp, remains of the structures, and trails convey to visitors a feeling of the alienation the prisoners must have felt and also of their lighter moments they enjoyed engaging in sports and exercise.
The Museum, located in Minto, houses nearly 600 artifacts from the camp and occupies over 2000 square feet. A mural in the hallway to the Museum, painted by Eugene Auteur, a local artist, gives visitors the impression they are walking past the rows of barbed wire that surrounded the perimeter of the camp. The exhibits are professionally done and very effectively tell the stories of individuals interned there, teaching, as Ed Caissie has said, about humanity and how innocent people can be affected.
Student involvement continues with the exceptional, outgoing young people who staff the museum in the summer months and provide a warm welcome and informative tour for visitors from across Canada and beyond.
Philippe is from the Tracadie region, and has an Honours Bachelor’s degree in History from the Université de Moncton. Since 2008, he has been a historian at the Village historique acadien in Bertrand, New Brunswick, where he has presented youth workshops in schools and papers at symposiums and history forums. His involvement is very visible with Acadian historical societies, notably the Société historique Nicolas-Denys, of which he is president and editor. He has published more than 50 short biographies and some 30 articles in this historical review. In 2015, he published the first volume of a series of life stories entitled “Life Stories”, taking the parish of Saint-Isidore as his first subject. In 2017, he published volume 2, Life Stories of Bertrand in Pokesudie.
Philippe is also a Coordinator of one of the Museum Network Zones, and he has served on the Board of The New Brunswick Heritage Association in the past.
Despite all his work and volunteerism he has a beautiful little family that is very important to him. It is with great pleasure that we present the 2020 Merit Award to Mr. Philippe Basque. Congratulations.