The Newfoundland and Labrador
Heritage Web Site Project
By James Hiller.


October-December, 1997. Copyright © 1997, Prospects. Reprinted with permission. Prospects can be reached on the web at www.cdli.ca/Community/Prospects/

The Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site was officially launched on November 25, 1997 - fittingly a full nine months after its inception. The site is a joint project of Memorial University's Smallwood Centre for Newfoundland Studies and the C.R. Bronfman Foundation of Montreal ( http://www.heritage.nf.ca).

Interpreting the word "heritage" in the broadest sense, the object is to develop an extensive web site which, by the end of the year 2000, will incorporate a large amount of information about the province's history, culture and environment. It is an ambitious public history project and, to the best of my knowledge, the only one of its kind in Canada.

Aimed at high school students and the general public, great care has been taken to make the site visually attractive, easy to navigate, and both informative and accessible. In time, it will become a basic reference for students looking for an introduction to many aspects of the province's heritage. The site is organized around six major threads: Natural Environment, Aboriginal Peoples, Exploration and Settlement, Law and Government, Society, and The Arts. Each of these broadens out into sub-threads, becoming more detailed and specialized at each level. Where appropriate, audio and video clips will be inserted, as well as documents, maps and a wide range of visual images. Users will find that some areas of the site are more developed than others, since the decision was made to concentrate on certain topics during the first year, leaving others for future work.

The material placed on the site so far has been generated by faculty members at Memorial, with the help of undergraduate and graduate students. There is a part-time editor. The site was designed by members of the former Division of Educational Technology, and is mounted on STEM~Net.

The progress made to date has been made possible only by the active involvement of partners inside and outside the university. Besides the Smallwood Centre, the project has been given vital assistance by the Centre for Newfoundland Studies, the Queen Elizabeth II Library, the Folklore and Language Archive, the School of Music, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and the Open Learning and Information Network. Various student employment programmes (MUCEP, PACEE, and SCPP) allowed us to hire assistants whose work has been invaluable.

Provincial government agencies such as the Newfoundland Museum and the Public Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador have been extremely cooperative. The project has also received backing from the Canada/Newfoundland COOPERATION Agreement on Human Resource Development and the Parks Canada Division of the Department of Canadian Heritage. Industry Canada has recently awarded a grant under the Digital Collections Programme, which will enable us to digitize and display works by Newfoundland and Labrador artists in the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador.

NewTel has been a partner in an important aspect of site development and the involvement of high school students in the creation of their own heritage web sites. Two pilots are underway, in Mount Pearl and Stephenville, both managed by private sector firms (Dale Noel Publications and Innova Multimedia Limited). Peggy Miller of INNOVA Multimedia Limited will be working with students at Stephenville High School to develop a heritage project dealing with heritage in the Stephenville area.

Eight students from Mount Pearl Senior High School developed an award winning heritage web site during 1996/97 school year while they were students at Mount Pearl Junior High. Under the direction of their sponsor teachers, Robert Stewart and Nath Sheppard, the students explored aspects of Newfoundland and Labrador culture and heritage through interviews with long-time residents of the island. They transcribed the interviews and offered them on their web site as text and as audio clips. This work will be incorporated into the main Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web site by March 1998.

This widespread support reflects a recognition by government and the private sector that the Heritage Web Site is a valuable and practical project. It will disseminate a large body of accurate information about the province, providing its users with a rich resource, and with the experience of using the Internet for research and communication. Students and others working on the site will gain valuable technical and editorial experience. And it will also help to make the province better known to a worldwide audience, many of whom may be potential visitors and tourists.

The site is an ambitious undertaking. Over the next few years, we will be looking for partners to help us realize our goals. Without them, the site will not succeed.



Contact Person:

Vincent Walsh
Project Coordinator
Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's, Newfoundland
A1C 5S7
Telephone: (709) 737-4476
Facsimile: (709) 737-3123
email: comments@heritage.nf.ca
URL: http://www.heritage.nf.ca


Sidebar updated April, 2007.

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