Guelph teacher receives Governor General’s History Teaching Award

Erin Doupe was one of six recipients recognized by Governor General Mary Simon. The winners received an individual prize of $2,500, along with a $1,000 prize for their school.
Erin Doupe was one of six recipients recognized by Governor General Mary Simon. The winners received an individual prize of $2,500, along with a $1,000 prize for their school. Youtube/ Canada's History

A First World War high school project has led to a Guelph woman receiving an excellence award in teaching.

Erin Doupe, a teacher at John F. Ross CVI, was honoured in a ceremony earlier this month.

The history project was called The Story of a Soldier, and students wrote short bios on soldiers from Guelph before mailing them to their last known address.

Doupe said the letters were sent throughout the Royal City and around the world and caught the attention of Canada’s Governor General Mary Simon.

“We sent letters fairly far afield,” Doupe said.

“Even though most of our letters went out to Guelph, we had lots of young men that had come to Guelph to enlist and they were actually from other parts of the country, some of them were even from other countries.”

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Doupe said over 200 students have been part of this project, which began in 2017.

They sent quite a few letters to England, Ireland and New Zealand, receiving positive feedback along the way.

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She said some of the listeners of 1460 CJOY may have even received a letter.

Doupe said students wrote four drafts of every essay that had been sent out, plus they received help from the Guelph Civic Museum.

“One of the things our students ended up doing through this project was looking at old maps of Guelph because some of the street names have changed,” she said.

They also researched through historical documents, newspapers, and other primary and secondary sources.

Doupe said she didn’t think the success from the project would lead to her earning national recognition.

She said it was a genuine surprise.

“Our focus, in the beginning, was just to document these lives, paint a picture of who these young men before they became soldiers and to give people an understanding of what their sacrifice was and to be able to share that with other people that lived in our community,” she said.

Each award came with a $2,500 individual prize, along with a $1,000 prize for the recipient’s school.

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Doupe said she has a plan on how to use the money.

Among the ideas she had was geo-mapping the city through digitized mapping and creating a digital archive.

“I want it to go back into the school and I want it to go back into some of the projects that we’re doing with our history students,” she said.

Doupe said winning the award might help her get support for other history projects.

“My ambition certainly has always been there to do these exciting, hands-on projects and I think just having the award on the resume maybe helps me a little bit with getting the kind of support I need from other partners to engage in this work with me,” she said.

And although she was the one on hand to accept the award, Doupe said her students deserve recognition as well.

She said the project was a collaborative effort between her and her students.

“Any teacher can tell you that you can have this amazing idea but if the students don’t buy in, it’s not going to work,” she said.

“So I was just really fortunate that I had such amazing students that could give the extra work ethic that this kind of project required.”

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