P.E.I. Heritage Awards recognize contributions to preserving history

The PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation is handing out its annual awards Tuesday night in Summerside to a variety of Islanders and summer residents who've worked to preserve PEI's history.

Ceremony Tuesday evening in Summerside celebrates authors, entertainers and communities

Gretha Rose will receive a PEI Heritage award for preserving this triplex on Water Street in Charlottetown. (Google)

The PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation is handing out its annual awards Tuesday night in Summerside to a variety of Islanders and summer residents who've worked to preserve P.E.I.'s history.

The Heritage Awards ceremony is considered the "jewel" of Heritage Week, a "celebration of our Island heritage and recognition of those that preserve it," according to the official letter sent out to this year's winners. 

Island writer Geoff Hussey published his award-winning debut novel at age 81. (Submitted by Geoff Hussey )

The honourees will receive their awards on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Eptek Centre. 

"I was overjoyed," said Geoff Hussey of Charlottetown, a former journalist who will take home a Heritage Award in recognition of his first novel, Charlie of Île Saint Jean

Hussey describes the book as a ribald and dramatic recapitulation of Prince Edward Island 18th century history, highlighting the expulsion of the Acadians, the development of the fledgling shipbuilding industry and the daily tribulations of King George's peasant soldiers.

"I really wanted to try to capture what hardscrabble life might well have been about here on the Island in the 18th century," said Hussey in his English drawl. He said he started the book at the age of 78 and finished it at 81. He said while it was "tough going," he's already looking forward to writing another book of historical fiction, this time based in Charlottetown. 

Sterling Stratton will receive the Irene Rogers Award in recognition of his longtime work in the promotion of architectural awareness on P.E.I. 

The tech gurus at SilverOrange will take home an award for preserving this heritage home on Fitzroy St. in Charlottetown. (Google )
And five people will receive Heritage Awards for preserving historic homes and buildings, including Gretha Rose, who has spent the last five years preserving the historic Bourke House on Water Street in Charlottetown. 

"It was not for the faint of heart," Rose laughed from her apartment in the three-unit building. She had to convene a meeting of agencies including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Charlottetown Area Development Corporation and the city in order to proceed with restoring the old boat shed which was falling into the harbour behind the house.

But the half million dollars she's invested is worth it, she said. Rather than flip the house for a profit, as she's done in the past, Rose said this time she's staying put.

"It's a beautiful building and there's nothing quite like it. You can see the cruise ships and boats passing right in front of you," she said.

CBC Radio: Mainstreet host Karen Mair will take home the Wendell Boyle Award in recognition of her many efforts in promoting and supporting P.E.I. heritage.

CBC Mainstreet host Karen Mair is 'thrilled over the recognition' for promoting and supporting P.E.I. heritage. (CBC )

"I'm thrilled over the recognition for Mainstreet," said Mair. 

"Long-time columnists Dutch Thompson and Boyde Beck have kept history alive through their story telling. Our ongoing commitment to Island heritage is also heard through interviews with experts and authors about everything from the return of Samuel Holland's map to the Acadian expulsion," she said. 

Not to be outdone, Mainstreet columnist Reg "Dutch" Thompson is getting the Award of Honour "for outstanding contributions in the field of heritage." 

The foundation will hand out awards to several communities, authors, preservation groups and home owners including Reg Porter of Belle River, The Knutsford Women's Institute and the Victoria Historical Association.

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