Gilbert Higgins (1926—1998)
Throughout his life, Gilbert always felt a love of history began when his grandfather, Judge Casey, gave him a copy of the first Newfoundland newspaper printed on locally produced newsprint. This carried through in his work as a librarian. You cannot think of Gilbert without thinking of piles and piles of books, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the writers and historians of this province.
He was an outstanding, committed volunteer with many heritage organizations. The Museum Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archivists, the Historical Society, the Heritage Foundation and the Historic Trust were all made richer by Gilbert’s contributions. While living in Stephenville, he was Chair of the Port au Port/Bay St. George Heritage Association. He had also served as an officer in the military and afterwards gave a great deal of his time to the cadet movement. But that was Gilbert. He never did anything by half measures. Whatever he was involved in he threw himself into quite heartily. If you asked Gilbert for his motto he usually answered in Latin, “Faber est quisque fortunae suae” and you wouldn’t be able to argue it with him – “Everyone is the architect of his own fortune.”
In April 1998, Gilbert was presented with the Newfoundland Historical Society’s Heritage Award, as his longtime passion had been the preservation of Newfoundland’s history and culture. He died in the fall of that year.
At the meeting of the Newfoundland Historical Society 23 November 1998, John FitzGerald, presented a eulogy to Gilbert. He quoted a wartime telegram from Winston Churchill to President Roosevelt, “It was fun to be in the same century with you.” John added, that with Gilbert “it was more than fun, it was an honour and a privilege, to be in the same century as Gilbert Higgins and for this, we will always remember and celebrate his life.”
His great contributions to the work of the Museum Association (MANL), the Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives (ANLA) and the Newfoundland Historical Society (NHS) led to the establishment of a memorial fund. The fund is used to support the annual Gilbert Higgins Lectures, which are hosted by ANLA, MANL and the NHS.
(written by Catherine Dempsey, 2009)
Gilbert Higgins Lecturers
March 28, 2019
Raymond B. Blake
November 30, 2017
Rozanne Enerson Junker
November 27, 2014
November 28, 2013
October 25, 2012
February 23, 2012
November 25, 2010
November 26, 2009
February 26, 2009
Allan Dwyer, The First Gilbert Higgins Lecture