Today, Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry opened Government House for a public event for the first time since the plague began. The Comité historique Soeur-Antoinette-DesRoches had been invited to hold it annual prize-giving event in the House and the programme began with introductions of distinguished guests and reminiscences by various individuals of three previous Acadian Islanders who had filled the post of Lieutenant Governor in this very building. Her Honour also explained the symbolism of the beautiful coat of arms presented to her upon her accession.
Photo by Trevor Gillingwater
The Comité historique Soeur-Antoinette-Desroches had decided to give me a most desirable award, the Prix Gilbert-Buote, for the work I had done in my PEI heritage blog to find and publish a series of unknown, mostly manuscript maps of Ile Saint Jean when it was a French colony. The chairperson of the Comité, Georges Arsenault, a friend of many years, presented the award.
Georges Arsenault, Reg Porter and Her Honour Antoinette Perry.
Photo by Irene MacIsaac
There was a link and a continuity on this day, as Gilbert Buote had published a French newspaper in my village of Tignish, and much later, his granddaughter the artist Alma Buote, had shared vivid memories of him and when she died, left me the remains of his valuable library. The power of the award on my emotions was correspondingly intensified.
This, in translation, is the citation that accompanied the presentation.
The Gilbert Buote Award is presented annually by the Sister Antoinette DesRoches Historical Committee, a committee of the Association of the Acadian Museum of Prince Edward Island. It recognizes projects of merit in the fields of Acadian history and heritage in the province.
This year, the Committee is pleased to present the award to Mr. Reg Porter for his study of the maps of Île Saint-Jean.
On his blog, Reg Porter’s Prince Edward Island Heritage Blog, Reg Porter features remarkable studies of old maps of Île Saint-Jean, or maps that include the Island, dating from the 17th to 18th centuries. This tireless researcher has managed to unearth an impressive number of maps in many archives in North America and Europe, many of which are little known even to historians of Acadie and Prince Edward Island.
In his articles, Reg Porter does not simply present photographs of maps, some of them in high resolution. He presents each map in its political, economic and social context and, where possible, provides information about the cartographers who created them. He comments on the content of the maps and their evolution over the years. He pays special attention to the toponymy, transcribing each place name and indicating the name it bears today.
This personal project, which Reg Porter embraced in 2020 on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the colony of Île Saint-Jean, was done with passion. He has put in countless hours of work. Mr. Porter is the first person to conduct such extensive research on the mapping of the Island in the French era. It is certainly a remarkable contribution to the study of the Island’s history. This study, easily accessible on the Internet, deserves to be well known by all those who are interested in the history of our Island, the Garden of the Gulf.
In recognition of this remarkable contribution to the visibility and promotion of Acadian history and heritage, the Sister Antoinette DesRoches Historical Committee is pleased to present Mr. Reg Porter the Gilbert Buote Award.
And here is the citation in its original French as read by M. Arsenault.
Le Prix Gilbert-Buote est présenté annuellement par le Comité historique Soeur-Antoinette-DesRoches, un comité de l’Association du Musée acadien de l’Île. Il reconnaît des projets de mérite dans les domaines de l’histoire et du patrimoine acadiens dans la province.
Cette année, le Comité est heureux de présenter ce prix à monsieur Reg Porter pour son étude des cartes géographiques de l’île Saint-Jean.
Sur son blog intitulé Reg Porter’s Prince Edward Island Heritage Blog, Reg Porter présente de remarquables études portant effectivement sur d’ancienne cartes géographiques de l’île Saint-Jean, ou des cartes comprenant l’île, datant du 17e au 18e siècle. Cet infatigable chercheur a réussi à dénicher un nombre impressionnant de cartes dans plusieurs centres d’archives en Amérique du Nord et en Europe dont un grand nombre sont peu connues, même des historiens de l’Acadie et de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard.
Dans ses articles, Reg Porter ne se contente pas de présenter que des photos de cartes géographiques, dont certaines à haute résolution. Il présente chacune dans son contexte politique, économique et social, et, dans la mesure du possible, il nous renseigne sur les cartographes qui les ont créées. Il commente le contenu des cartes et de leur évolution au cours des années. Il porte une attention spéciale à la toponymie transcrivant chaque nom de lieu et indiquant le nom que l’endroit porte de nos jours.
Ce projet personnel, que Reg Porter a embrassé à l’occasion du 300e anniversaire de la fondation de la colonie de l’île Saint-Jean, a été fait avec passion. Il y a consacré une somme incalculable d’heures de travail. Monsieur Porter est la première personne à mener une recherche aussi approfondie sur la cartographie de l’Île de l’époque française. Il s’agit assurément d’une contribution remarquable à l’étude de l’histoire de l’Île. Cette étude, facilement accessible sur Internet, mérite d’être bien connue par tous ceux et celles qui s’intéressent de près ou de loin à l’histoire de notre île, le Jardin du golfe.
Afin de souligner cette remarquable contribution à la visibilité et à la promotion de l’histoire et du patrimoine acadiens, le Comité historique Soeur-Antoinette-DesRoches est heureux de présenter à monsieur Reg Porter le Prix Gilbert-Buote.
This double honour of re-opening Government House in this Island lull in the plague and inviting the Comité historique Soeur-Antoinette-DesRoches to present me with its award there, has greatly moved me and once again reminded me forcefully that I am surrounded by thoughtful and caring individuals, sensitive to moment and ceremony.
There were moments of hilarious joy when old friends got together to reminisce about long-shared events.
Photo by Trevor Gillingwater.
There was a Covid-regulated audience of about 30 guests, representing various organisations and individuals in the wider Acadian community, as well as Board members of the Comité historique Soeur-Antoinette-DesRoches, a committee of l’Association du Musée acadien de l’Île. Media representatives from Radio Canada and the newspaper La Voix acadienne were present and conducted interviews.
Unexpected Friends Appear
Such occasions bring happy connections with the past, especially the unexpected presence of old friends. The first was the appearance of my old friend and soulmate of 45 years, Trevor Gillingwater, who was in Charlottetown working as Masonry Conservator for the restoration of Province House. Barely arrived in town from a Quebec quarry he rushed from the Legislature to Government House, on which he too has done major restoration work, and we were given seats of honour for the ceremony.
Photo by Jacinthe Laforest, La Voix acadienne.
And delight of delights I saw in the flesh once again after an absence of many years, Her Honour’s ADC, Christopher Michaud, now Regimental Second-in-Command, Prince Edward Island Regiment (RCAC). We were able to reconnect, however briefly, and talk about cheerful things from twenty-five years ago. He had been a student at UPEI when I lectured there in the History of Art, and, although sadly never a student of mine, I had been blessed by his friendliness, charm, scholarship, and culture.
Photo by Irene MacIsaac
So, it was a grand afternoon that left me blissfully exhausted, overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and kindness of the Comité historique Soeur-Antoinette-DesRoches, reunited with dear and close friends, and meeting more persons connected to my past, and finally an opportunity to meet the new Executive Director of the Prince Edward Island Museum, Dr. Matthew MacKay. November 9, 2021 will sparkle in my memory as, later this month, I speed toward a birthday anniversary that marks my fortunate progress into a contented old age.
As a footnote, all this happiness was facilitated by the Government House staff, who thought of everything and were everywhere to help. The kitchen provided, as a going away present, a generous helping of sweets, elegantly presented in a vice-regal monogrammed box. What a send-off into a glorious warm Autumn late afternoon!