It was on a sweltering day at Oro's World Fair that Duncan McDonald realized that Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton wasn't a typical politician.
Usually, officials arrive at an event, shake a few hands, pose for photos, and leave. But on that afternoon, Bruce was volunteering with Duncan – a longtime Conservative party member – at a food stand.
"Bruce worked at the deep fryer for three hours and he stayed cheerful and friendly the whole time, just like he is in parliament," Duncan says. "I thought, 'This is what public service looks like.'"
Duncan was so inspired by Bruce's commitment that when he learned he was retiring after 15 years, Duncan decided to establish a Lakehead University bursary in Bruce's honour.
"It's certainly humbling to have a bursary in my name, but it's the effect it has that's important," Bruce says. "Helping students who need a hand and cultivating a sense of public service in our young people."
"Public service is an essential part of being a good human being," adds Duncan, who has served as a church minister and a University of Calgary ombudsman.
As an ombudsman, Duncan found that many students needed financial help to get through school, that's why assisting them was a career highlight for him.
"Often first-generation university students and students whose parents are immigrants are the hardest working," he says.
Bruce's civic spirit has had a major impact on Simcoe County. He helped Lakehead Orillia secure $13.5 million to construct the 500 University Avenue campus and obtained funding to expand the Lake Simcoe Airport and rebuild the Trent-Severn Waterway's crumbling infrastructure. He is also the longest serving deputy speaker in the history of the House of Commons.
How did Bruce develop his sense of public service?
"Most of the things that have helped me succeed in political ventures were hard learned in the hospitality service," he says.
He forged his career at Bayview Wildwood Resort, a business on Sparrow Lake that his family has owned for generations.
"Although we had industry competitors, there was a strong sense of collegiality. I learned that there's a lot more advantage to building bridges rather than tearing them down."
Bruce believes that his biggest accomplishments were the small things he was able to do for the citizens of Simcoe County, like benefits or program funding he helped them get. "They are the stories that never make the news, but they were important to those individuals," he says.
"His character, his humility, and his service are the things I will always think about when I think of Bruce Stanton," Duncan says.
The Bruce Stanton Public Service Bursary will be awarded annually to a Lakehead Orillia student studying in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences who has shown commitment to their community.
Contact Jacquie Kent at 705-330-4010, Ext. 2080 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to make a gift that transforms a student's life.