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The memory of Roy Bonisteel to be honoured in Trenton

By Kate Shumakova [1]

TRENTON – The late Roy Bonisteel [2], journalist, longtime host of CBC’s Man Alive program, Order of Canada recipient and Quinte West native, will be recognized Saturday, Nov. 7, at the unveiling ceremony for a garden and monument named in his honour.

The Roy Bonisteel Tribute Garden [3] project started at the beginning of 2014 when Quinte West council approved a request to provide a permanent home for it outside the Trenton library, where there is a view of the Bay of Quinte.

Roy Bonisteel [4]

Roy Bonisteel hosted CBC’s Man Alive for 22 years. Photo courtesy of Lesley Bonisteel

Bonisteel began his journalism career with the Belleville Intelligencer [5] and the Trentonian [6] in the 1940s. Then in 1951 he began his broadcasting career in radio at CJBQ [7].

Bonisteel hosted Man Alive, a show that looked at religious issues, from 1967 to 1989. He received numerous awards over the span of his career, including two ACTRA honours [8].

After his retirement, Bonisteel served as a citizenship court judge for seven years.

His daughter, Lesley Bonisteel, says her father was happy to serve his country.

“My dad was really proud to be a Canadian, and he really liked to help other people to become Canadian too,” Bonisteel told QNet News this week in an interview at the Old Church Theatre [9] in Trenton, a performance space that she operates.

Citizen Court Judge [10]

Bonisteel served as a citizenship-court judge for seven years. Photo courtesy of Lesley Bonisteel

The theatre is located in the former Johnstown Church. In 1994, Roy Bonisteel bought the building at at 940 Bonisteel Rd.  The old church had functioned until 1972 but had been abandoned and vandalized for years, Lesley Bonisteel said.

“My dad wanted to buy it just to keep it in the community and keep it from falling down. All the original renovations were done by my father,” she said.

The building was used as a place where members of the community could come together – from artists and musicians to the general public. Lesley Bonisteel said she remembers a time when her family was performing on the small stage in the centre of the church, and how it felt more like a living room than a church.

“My dad wanted to try to be an actor (after he retired). And he did it really well,” she said.

Roy Bonisteel died of cancer at the age of 83 in his Trenton home in August 2013.

Lesley Bonisteel said her father loved working in the garden, so it was a great idea to have a garden in his honour.

The unveiling of the tribute garden behind the takes place at 10:30 a.m. at the Trent Port Marina, 7 Creswell Dr., Trenton, on Saturday, Nov. 7.