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Published November 5, 2007 | History

The Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) Makes Local Anglo History A Virtual Reality!

Since all learning begins by asking simple questions, how better to approach the study of history than by exploring the origins of the places students call home?

In rural regions of Quebec, the traditional repository for local archives and artefacts pertaining to English-speaking heritage was-and still is-the old-fashioned county museum and historical society. Many of these volunteer-based organizations have been operating for more than a century, and their archives, publications and collections constitute a unique storehouse of historical information on regional Quebec history. Until fairly recently, however, anglophone heritage groups across the province operated without computers or access to the Internet, a barrier which not only hampered the exchange of information but also prevented a whole generation of digital-savvy teachers and students from gaining access to valuable course material.

QAHN's on line graphics are consistently engaging.

Enter the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) a non-profit, non-partisan umbrella group whose mission is to help advance knowledge of the history and culture of English-speaking society in Quebec. Created seven years ago by a handful of local historical societies based in the Eastern Townships, the Outaouais, the Laurentians and the Gaspé, one of QAHN's early achievements was to establish an Internet forum for showcasing anglophone heritage in Quebec's regions. The platform is known as the Quebec Heritage Web [http://www.quebecheritageweb.com/], and consists of a suite of regional heritage webmagazines that blend history writing, driving tours, archival photography and historic documents which chronicle the development of historic English-speaking communities. Although far from being at the cutting edge of information technology, the website does have a keyword search engine.

If there's anything that QAHN's subscribers share in common, it's a passion for Canadian and Quebec history, and not just the academic variety. Nearly all the content currently featured on the Quebec Heritage Web as well as QAHN's bimonthly membership print magazine, Quebec Heritage News, is supplied by heritage enthusiasts and amateur historians, often relying on source material in the possession of QAHN member groups. In addition to existing regional heritage webmagazines focused on the Townships, the Outaouais and the Laurentians, plans are currently underway to develop a fourth site in 2008-09 that will be dedicated to the Gaspé's anglophone heritage.

Reforms to Quebec's history curriculum reflect a strong interest in engaging students' natural curiosity about the past by inviting them to familiarize themselves with and select from a wide range of information types and sources, including those available on the Internet. Students interested in learning about English-speaking heritage in Quebec's regions can already find a lot of interesting leads and research ideas on the Quebec Heritage Web site; some small museums and historical societies have even found the necessary financial support to digitize a portion of their collections. It's QAHN's hope that Quebec teachers will join them to help make this website even better and to explore how students with a passion for history can gain experience working in the heritage field.

Profweb spoke to Dwawne Wilkin who is QAHN's executive director. Dwayne feels that there'll never be a substitute for poking round the archives and slipping on a pair of white gloves to thumb a musty book or sheaf of papers. He encourages teachers to plan a class trip to one of QAHN's member institutions. You can find a local historical museum near you by visiting QAHN's main website [http://qahn.org/] and clicking on the ‘Members' button. Or, call the QAHN office at 1-877-964-0409.

Dwayne also indicated that QAHN is constantly on the look-out for new original writing on history or heritage by student historians. Click on ‘submissions' for guidelines on writing for the Quebec Heritage Web.

Use our Reader Response feature to share your views about this resource with colleagues around the province!

  • Have you ever designed a class project around a theme or topic in local history?
  • Do you think it would be useful for students to acquaint themselves with the resources of historical societies or heritage groups in their home communities?
  • How do you suppose CEGEP teachers and students might contribute to the mission of Quebec's Anglophone heritage sector?

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