A fifth generation Central Albertan with roots in Red Deer and Pine Lake, Michael Dawe received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history and economics at the University of Alberta. In 1979, he became the city's first full-time archivist with the Red Deer and District Archives. In May 2009, he was seconded to become the curator of history in preparation for the City of Red Deer Centennial in 2013. He subsequently returned to the Red Deer and District Archives.
He served as a trustee and chair of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Board. He was a founder and chair of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Foundation. He was elected a member of the David Thompson Health Authority in 2001 and served until the Authority was dissolved in 2008.
He was a member of the Red Deer Home Care Management Committee, a member of the STARS (Central Region) Capital Campaign Committee and a member of the Alberta Health Innovation Fund Advisory Committee.
He was a founding member of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre Association and is a long time member of the Red Deer River Naturalists. He was an advisor to the development of the Waskasoo Park system in Red Deer which includes the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary.
He is currently deputy mayor of the Summer Village of Norglenwold. He is a member of the Sylvan Lake Library Board and the Sylvan Lake Water and Wastewater Commissions.
He was a member of the Riverside Meadows (North Red Deer) Centennial Committee (2011. He is a member and past chair of the Westerner Association Volunteer and Membership Committee. He is a member of the Red Deer East Rotary Club and is a past Club secretary.
He is a trustee Twilight Homes Foundation, which is dedicated to funding charitable projects for seniors in Red Deer.
He authored Red Deer: The Memorable City in 2013, which is now out of print after three printings. He also authored Red Deer An Illustrated History in 1989 and wrote a new edition in 1996. He wrote Rock of Our Ages in 1993, A History of the Parkland Savings and Credit Union in 1995 and 100 Years, The Red Deer Advocate in 2007. He wrote the Red Deer entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia. He is also a freelance columnist for the Red Deer Advocate, Red Deer Express and Sylvan Lake News.
In 1994, he was named the Alberta Citizen of the Year by the Council on School Administration for his work with local schools. In 1996, he became the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award at Red Deer College. In 1999, he was inducted into the Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005. In 2012, he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.
In 2006, he was made an honorary life member of the Archives Society of Alberta. In 2007 and again in 2014, he was made an honorary Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International by the Red Deer East Club. In 2007, he became the first non-member of the Elks Lodge to be named an honorary life member of the Red Deer Lodge.
In 2008, he was named a Hidden Hero by the Third Academy for his work with students with learning disabilities and philanthropic projects in the community. In 2009, he received the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs Commendation for his work with veterans and in preserving the military history of Alberta. In 2010, he was made an honorary Friend of Optimists and also won a Heritage Recognition Award for his historical writing. In 2011, he was voted Red Deer’s “most beloved” citizen by the readers of the Red Deer Express, and continued to win that award for four years in a row.
In 2014, he was named Red Deer’s Citizen of the Year.