By: Emma Johnston
Recently installed outside the Burford Branch of The County of Brant Public Library is a locally crafted and inscribed wooden bench. The bench is in honour of Bill Johnston, owner and editor of The Burford Times, an independent newspaper that published locally for over thirty years. Bill passed away this past spring but left a strong legacy of community mindedness and a love for the printed word.
The bench has been generously donated by the Burford Optimist Club, of which Bill was a member for almost two decades.
The library was the ideal location for Bill’s bench since the goal of The County of Brant Public Library is to be a “library without borders,. Libraries are for everyone and everyone is welcome” says CEO Kelly Bernstein, “when I heard the proposal to put the bench at the Burford Branch, I thought it sounded like a perfect fit, it’s really an honour.”
Optimist Dale Weatherbee agreed, explaining that this seemed like “the most fitting spot, Bill was all about literature and education, he was our spelling bee ‘guy’ for years!”
The Library is very often the “heartbeat of the community” explains Kelly, and both the Optimists’ and Bill’s legacy agree – Bill’s heart was for his community!
During Bill’s lifetime his aim was to bring accurate, down to earth news that upheld the community, supported local people and events and encouraged non-sensationalized press. He spent hours promoting education in various forms, reading and researching aand maintaining the values found in proper media coverage and good journalism.
“It’s such a great idea, the bench and location really capture what Bill was all about.” said Bill’s wife Betty Johnston.
Not only does the bench recognize an upstanding local citizen, businessman and journalist, but it also provides an accessible place for visitors of the library to rest and relax.
“The spot for the bench is perfect” said Kelly, “it’s situated directly beside the building, with good light, access to our free internet and looks great.”
The bench is not simply a place to sit, it’s a reminder of what Bill Johnston stood for; community and accessible education, and there couldn’t be a better place to put it than at the Burford Branch of The County of Brant Public Library.
By: Emma Johnston