Betty Gallant Gillis of was little more than a child when she began to learn the importance of family and to develop an interest in the preservation of the Island’s rich cultural past.
Born in 1946 to an Acadian family in which she was one of six children, Betty took an active part in the upbringing of her siblings, which was very common in larger families of the day. She took a great deal of interest in the genealogical history of her family, but her interest did not stop there. She also researched the lineage of friends and neighbours.
Her efforts to research local genealogy intensified 26 years ago after raising her own five children with her husband Donnie, whose ancestors came from Scotland.
To uncover the information she sought, she examined a wide variety of Island records and resources. She pored through the records of Access PEI and mortgage documents and waded through decades of back issues from The Journal Pioneer, paying particular attention to the obituaries. There were numerous visits to Charlottetown to visit the provincial Public Archives and Records Office. She interviewed many Island seniors, documented the oral history of their families, and obtained hundreds of treasured photographs of founding families and their ancestors. She also read many texts and books written by Islanders about Island history, both past and present. She spent many hours visiting Island churches and cemeteries and studying archived maps of original settlements and land distribution. All of the relevant information she gathered has been carefully compiled and recorded in a large and comprehensive album.
Gillis is extremely proud of her own family's Anglo and Acadian roots, and her work is helping to preserve and promote the complex culture and history of Prince Edward Island. She has shared much of what she has learned with her family, distant relatives, friends and visitors to the Island.
For her efforts to document the genealogy of Prince Edward Island, Gillis has been awarded a Heritage Recognition Award.