Newfoundland and Labrador
Heritage now on Internet
By Janet Bishop. Gazette


November 27, 1997. Copyright © 1997, The Gazette. Reprinted with permission. The Gazette can be reached on the web at www.mun.ca/univrel/gazette

An ambitious and exciting history project was launched at Memorial this week.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website was officially opened by Lt.-Gov. Dr. Max House at a press conference Nov. 25.

The aim of the site is to make available to high school and university students as well as the general public a wide range of information on the history, culture and geography of the province. The initial idea for the project came out of discussions between Dr. Jaap Tuinman, vice president (academic), Dr. Terrence Murphy, dean of arts, and the C. R. Bronfman Foundation, a national organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Canadian history and heritage.

Dr. Murphy then approached the Smallwood Centre For Newfoundland Studies to take responsibility for the project. They agreed and this past February, the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website was born.

The site has been developed by members of the Faculty of Arts, many of whom are and will be contributors to the site. But Dr. Jim Hiller, History, is quick to point out that that will change.

"Although up to now most of the activity has been in the arts faculty, it is going to spread to other faculties," said Dr. Hiller, academic coordinator of the project. "Over time it will also include community groups and schools."

Funding for the project came from a variety of sources - the C. R. Bronfman Foundation, the Faculty of Arts, Parks Canada, the Smallwood Centre as well as private donations. A coordinator, graphic artists, educational technologists, MUCEP students and graduate students were then hired.

The site is made up of six major threads: Natural Environment, Aboriginal Peoples, Exploration and Settlement, Law and Government, Society and the Arts. Each of these threads then diversifies into a large number of smaller threads. Said project manager Vince Walsh: "Hopefully those six threads will be able to encompass any and all issues pertinent to our heritage and history."

Any information on the site is thoroughly checked for accuracy, completeness and accessibility.

"There's a lot of falsehoods out there on the Internet," said Mr. Walsh. "So we want to make sure that what's actually being said is accurate."

Dr. Hiller also pointed out that the site is very user-friendly and everyone is welcome to use it. "It is designed for the general public; it is not a scholarly website in the sense that it is designed for use by academics. It's designed for use by anyone."

The Heritage Website is a pilot project of the C. R. Bronfman Foundation's Canada 2000 initiative which will eventually lead to other similar sites in 2,000 neighbourhoods across Canada. Dr. Tom Axworthy of the C. R. Bronfman Foundation attended the press conference.

The site has an attractive format, combining text and graphics as well as audio and video material. The aim is to have the site substantially completed by December 2000.

Dr. Murphy feels that the economic and educational potential of the site is enormous. "We have had people from as far away as Denmark and Australia log onto the site," he said. "As of Nov. 25 we have had 17,000 people visit the site."

Check out the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website at http://www.heritage.nf.ca.

Sidebar updated April, 2007.

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