Neil Orford is a retired History Teacher from the Upper Grand District School Board, who spent his entire career in Dufferin County, Ontario. A winner of the 2012 Ontario Premier's Award for Teaching; the 2013 Governor General's Award for Excellence in History Teaching, and the Government of Canada Award for History in 2015, he also created the award-winning 'experiential learning program' entitled The Digital Historian Project© in 2014. The DHP© has been selected as an exemplary program by the Ontario Ministry of Education, combining the principles of Historical Thinking and Statistical Analysis for Senior History and Mathematics students.
Neil Orford has been featured on CBC's “The National”, TV Ontario, and in numerous articles across Canada. He has written for major Canadian publications, and is a regular presenter at Conferences and workshops. He has worked extensively with the Juno Beach Centre, and has led a Summer Institute for History teachers in Normandy.
In 2017, Neil Orford partnered with author Blake Heathcote, to create “Defining Moments Canada,” a Canadian non-profit established to conduct digital historical commemorations. With significant funding from the Canadian Federal Government, Defining Moments Canada will lead a national commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Spanish Flu Pandemic in Canada 2018-2019, for students, museums, and community partners using the Digital Historian Project platform.
Blake Heathcote is from Toronto, where he worked as a freelance director and playwright in the theatre across Canada, the US, and the UK. He worked as assistant director to renowned Broadway director Hal Prince on three musicals, as well as with playwright/director Sir Alan Ayckbourn in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, where Sir Alan directed two of Blake's plays at the Stephen Joseph Theatre-in-the-Round. Blake has written fifteen plays.
In 1999, inspired by his father and grandfather’s experiences in WW 1 and WW 2, Blake conceived the Testaments of Honour project whose objective is to chronicle on video first-hand accounts of Canadian veterans to provide future generations with a richer, deeper understanding of Canadian history through use of first-person testaments. The Testaments of Honour archive contains of 550 veterans’ interviews (85 in the French language) on digital video, 14,000 photographs, and 4,000 documents. He created interactive video displays for the Juno Beach Centre, HMCS Haida, Veterans Affairs, and numerous heritage organizations.
From 2006 to 2011, he was Video Producer for Random House of Canada creating interviews with a wide range of their authors – Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, John Grisham, Bill Bryson, and Farley Mowat among many others.
He lives in Toronto and Bracebridge, Ontario.