By Sam Westcott
Special to The Western Star
When David Smallwood received the phone call two weeks ago telling him that he was to be awarded with the Order of Newfoundland at the end of the month, the long-time Corner Brook resident says he was shocked beyond words.
Yet for Smallwood, this isn’t the first year he’s been recognized for his work. Last year, Smallwood was recognized as the Corner Brook Citizen of the Year for his continuous volunteer work with the Rotary Arts Centre, the artist-run gallery and centre he initially began planning with the late Tina Dolter about 10 years ago.
Smallwood calls the Rotary Arts Centre his baby. During the past three or four years of its inauguration within the city, Smallwood says the Centre has done everything it can to inspire local artists from all disciplines and backgrounds.
He says he’d like the Arts Centre to go on well past his tenure there, joking that someday, his baby will turn 18, and have to move on without him.
Now, still surprised at the upcoming Order of NL award, Smallwood looks to his past work in Newfoundland as the reason the province has chosen to recognize him.
In terms of his business background, Smallwood virtually created Academy Canada, before selling it and allowing it to prosper as one of the stronger independent schools in the province. He’s also put in time with Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador and the Gros Morne Theatre Festival over the years.
In 1999, Smallwood worked with the Canada Winter Games when they were hosted by Corner Brook, and during his tenure at the Games, helped raise enough money to leave the Canada Games Centre debt-free.
Currently, Smallwood says he’ll continue to work with the Rotary Arts Centre before looking towards a second retirement. It was early into his first one, Smallwood realized that his plan to sit back and read wasn’t going to work for him.
“I had to get out and do something,” Smallwood said.
That something — this week at least — is helping out with Hockey Day in Canada while the events are in town, in addition to his day-to-day volunteer work at the Rotary Arts Centre.
Smallwood will receive the Order of Newfoundland at a ceremony at the end of the January.
He will be joined in the order by Terence S. Goodyear, Dr. Falah B. Maroun, Robert Mellin, Wayne Miller, Kathleen Pratt LeGrow, Katarina Mirabelle Roxon and Marie E. Ryan.