On March 23, 1982 the executive of the Newfoundland Historical Society (NHS) “unanimously agreed that the Heritage Award shall be given posthumously to Dr. Louise Whiteway.” Thus Helen Louise Whiteway (known as Louise) rightfully took an official place as an important contributor to the preservation and propagation of Newfoundland and Labrador history. Her contribution is recorded in the attached bibliography.
Born on August 10, 1901 in St. John’s to Solomon Pardy Whiteway (1868-1950) and Sarah Trapnell Avery Whiteway (1868-1951), Louise was one of three children—Claire and Evan. Solomon P. Whiteway was a well known and respected educator at the Methodist College and strongly encouraged the educational pursuits
of his children. Louise’s mother also recognized the importance of education and the recording of Newfoundland’s history. She, herself, wrote an unpublished history of Musgrave Harbour so her relatives would have a record of life there.
Louise was educated at the Methodist College and earned the Jubilee Award in 1919. She obtained her undergraduate degree (B.A.) from Mount Allison University in 1923. This was followed by an M.A., also from Mount Allison University, in 1924. Her Doctorate of Philosophy, one of the first earned by a Newfoundland and Labrador woman, was completed at her father’s alma mater, Columbia University, in 1943. The major subject for her doctorate was educational research.
Her work history included time spent at Memorial University College. There she spent time in the Library as supervisor of the North Reading Room and cataloguing new books. As her “ informal report” of 1946-47 indicates she worked to devise ways and means to make the library material more accessible and relevant to the faculty. She also marked examinations for the English Department of the College and on occasion gave addresses to the Arts and Science Society.
Unfortunately, her life was punctuated by illness. Living surrounded by books in her LeMarchant home, Louise wrote and conducted research until at least 1978. Bobbie Robertson, secretary for the Newfoundland Historical Society, wrote January 22, 1969, “You are absolutely tremendous, and I wish there were more like you”, after Louise researched and submitted to the NHS information on Comfort Cove and Newstead.
Upon her death in 1982, Dr. Whiteway left to Memorial University a bequest to establish a prize in history. Awarded annually to the most promising student in Newfoundland history, the prize along with her research stand as testament to her lasting commitment to the preservation and recording of Newfoundland and Labrador history.
Seaches in various indexes (e.g. CPI), the Centre for Newfoundland Studies collection—catalogue, name and PAB files—various archives (Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, United Church Archives, Newfoundland History Society and Queen Elizabeth II Library ) and personal conversations with Mrs. Helen Whiteway resulted in the following bibliography. I wish to give special acknowledgement to Mrs. Helen Whiteway who graciously spoke to me about her sister-in-law, Louise, and provided the family photographs for this website. A thank you also goes to Suzanne Sexty who took the photographs from the General Protestant Cemetery.