In retirement, P.E.I. man finds a second career preserving history

Earle Lockerby didn’t revisit his interest in history until he retired from his career in the nuclear power industry. He received the Award of Honour at the 2019 P.E.I. Heritage Foundation Heritage Awards at Beaconsfield Historic House in Charlottetown Feb. 19.

Earle Lockerby presented with Award of Honour at P.E.I. Heritage Foundation Heritage Awards

Following a career in the nuclear power industry, Earle Lockerby has devoted his time to P.E.I. history. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

Earle Lockerby's fascination with history started when he looked into his family genealogy in high school. The P.E.I. man didn't revisit his interest in history until he retired from his career in the nuclear power industry.

That's when he started looking into the history of P.E.I., beginning with the first European settlement in 1720.

"I felt sort of challenged by trying to go back as far as possible in the historical record. So, I began with the French regime and the history of that period," he said.

Lockerby received the Award of Honour at the 2019 P.E.I. Heritage Foundation Awards at Beaconsfield Historic House in Charlottetown on Feb. 19.

The award is given to an individual for outstanding contribution demonstrating a high-level of achievement in the areas of research, education or preservation as they relate to P.E.I. history.

Little published on French period

Before Lockerby's work, little was published on the Island's 18th century French period.

Some of Lockerby's publications include Pathways to the Present: Hamilton, Prince Edward Island; The Deportation of the Acadians from Ile-St.-Jean, 1758; and he co-authored Samuel Holland — His Work and Legacy on P.E.I.

Lockerby said he is honoured and humbled to win the award when he looks at past winners such as UPEI history professor Ed MacDonald.

"It's kind of gratifying to be following in the footsteps of some of these individuals."

Some of the many books and articles written by Earle Lockerby about Island history. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

Lockerby said he is fascinated when he sorts through old documents, diaries and journals that show original correspondence.

"I like to rely largely on primary documents," he said. "These are documents that date from the period you are concerned with opposed to secondary sources, where someone has kind of digested the information and put their own interpretation on it."

Keeping Island history alive

He said he is satisfied when he comes across new information, but research is only part of the battle.

"You have got to produce something that preserves it for posterity, circulates it, and makes it known to people."

Lockerby was thrilled the first time he saw his own name in print.

"I've been retired now for almost 20 years. So, it is almost like a second career."

He said it's important to keep Island history alive.

"Of course, we don't know where we are going, but if you know where we've been it does give you a bit of a reference point as to where you want to go."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.


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