Ronald Caplan Scholarship to focus on Cape Breton culture

MARGAREE: Cape Breton University, thanks to the efforts of the Margaree Area Development Association (MADA), is pleased to have an endowed scholarship offered for those wanting to understand and promote Cape Breton Island.

On July 1, MADA announced it would sponsor a scholarship in honour of Ronald Caplan at Cape Breton University. This annual scholarship of $2,000 will support students enrolled in any program in the School of Arts and Social Sciences. The student recipient will emulate the goals of Ronald Caplan’s Cape Breton’s Magazine and Breton Books by dedicating their studies to Cape Breton’s history and culture.

“MADA is pleased to participate in recognizing the amazing work of Ronald Caplan by establishing a scholarship in his name,” says Maria Coady of the Margaree Area Development Association. “This scholarship will provide a lasting tribute to him as well as provide support to students who wish to further Ronald’s work in celebrating Cape Breton’s history and culture.”

Caplan, originally born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has made Cape Breton his home since 1971. A member of the Order of Canada, Caplan has published more than 150 books under the imprint of Breton Books. He also received his honourary doctorate from Cape Breton University in 1999, among many other accolades, for his exemplary contributions to the oral history of Cape Breton.

When contacted for comment, Caplan said he was honoured but also pleased to see young people given the opportunity to continue the sort of work he began in the early 1970s.

“It encourages young people to keep alive the vision of Cape Breton’s Magazine and collecting both our history and our stories, and keeping them available to the wider world,” he said.

“I’m grateful that the Margaree Area Development Association chose to honour me this way. It’s always been important to me that the Cape Breton story stay alive. This is a real contribution to making that possible.”

Cape Breton’s Magazine still lives on in a digital form. Interested readers are encouraged to visit the on-line home of the magazine at: www.capebretonsmagazine.com where all 72 issues can be accessed.

The announcement was made during the annual Margaree Canada Day Literary Festival at the Coady Thompkins Library in Margaree Forks.

Commenting on behalf of CBU was Andy Parnaby, a professor who serves as Acting Dean of Arts and Social Sciences. He said any scholarship helping students pursue their education is great, and having that youth focus their education along the path Caplan set out is an added bonus.

“It ties in with the entire ethic of the university,” Parnaby said. “Our work, more often than not, is dedicated to improving life on the island, so it connects in a broad sense, but I think in a smaller way, I could see students having a co-op placement that takes them to different parts of the island. I can clearly see how we can tie this award into the betterment of the island.”