Past winners of The Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Museums: History Alive!


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Barbara A. Tyler
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Dr. Shirley L. Thomson
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Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Museums: History Alive!

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The Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Museums: History Alive! is a partnership between the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) and Canada's History Society (CHS). This award was presented for the first time in December 2011 by the Governor General of Canada, at Rideau Hall.

Canadian history is comprised of many histories. It is kept vibrant and meaningful by the roles and activities of smaller community-based initiatives, led largely by Canada's museums, archives, and local heritage institutions.  Their efforts ensure there is an enduring repository of valuable research information for future generations, as well as provide important interpretive programs that give greater personal relevance and connection for Canadians to the later national story.

The goal of the History Alive! award is to honour significant achievement in the historical field and encourage standards of excellence specifically in the presentation, preservation and interpretation of national, regional or local history.

The award recognizes individuals or institutions that have made remarkable contributions to a better knowledge of Canadian history.


  • Eligible nominees are individuals or organizations in museums, archives, art galleries and related heritage institutions that have made remarkable contributions to a better knowledge of the Canadian local, regional or national history.
  • The award is conferred on accomplishments occurring within the year preceding the nomination deadline.
  • Individuals or organizations may not receive an award more than once in three years.
  • Works accepted for nomination may include innovative exhibitions, interpretation, programs and presentations on local, regional or national history subjects, in English or in French.
  • The works must be about actual people and events in Canada history, or composites of events known to have happened.
  • Posthumous nominations will not be considered.
  • Individual nominations will not be considered more than 3 times.
  • Members of the jury or their affiliated institutions are not eligible.


The award will be presented in the Fall each year by the Governor General during the Award Ceremony at Rideau Hall.


To be determined.


Nominees are considered on the basis of the quality of their research, presentation, preservation and interpretation of history, as well as the overall contribution and impact of their work to fostering a better understanding of our past.

Nominations will be assessed against the following:

  • Innovation: Nominee initiated and used new ideas, concepts, approaches, activities and programs in communicating local, regional or national history;
  • Integrity: the project is an accurate portrayal of an aspect of Canadian heritage/history;
  • Impact: the project results in positive outcomes in Canadian communities, enhances historical and heritage understanding, and has a significant record of audience outreach;
  • Inclusion: the project/activity supports, promotes, and reflects accessibility and diversity;
  • Inspirational: the project is of significance to other museums in the presentation of Canada's history.

An independent jury will review the nominations and choose the award recipient.

The nominator must be an individual or an organization involved in museums, art galleries and related heritage institutions and who is a CMA or Canada's History Society member.

Nomination Instructions

1. Complete and submit the PDf form available here.

2. Add:

  • Letters of support from other Canadian museum professionals supporting the application (1-2).
  • 5 digital photos presenting the project/program nominated.
  • Up to 3 relevant support material of the nominee (OPTIONAL).

3. Submit by email to