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Saturday, December 2, 2023
New bench honours memory of longtime member of Friends of Fort George
Louise Leyland's son Tyler and husband Don were pleased that the bench was placed somewhere so special to Louise. JULIA SACCO

A memorial bench honouring the memory of Louise Leyland – a Niagara-on-the-Lake woman who touched many lives with her love, friendship and passion for history – has found a rather fitting place to call home.

“I proposed to her right at this spot, 56 years ago,” said her husband, Don Leyland, outside of Brock’s Monument in Queenston Heights.

In April, 81-year-old Leyland was struck and killed by a cyclist near Willowbank School.

An active member of the Friends of Fort George, she formed many bonds during her 25 years with the organization. 

On Saturday, the organization unveiled a bench in remembrance of Leyland outside of the historic monument in Queenston.

Before cutting the ribbon to officially “open” the bench, Don Leyland shared stories about his wife’s life, including her love of Queenston Heights and all things history.

He shared the story of their first date together many years ago: from the start, she made her love of the historic site apparent to him.

“When I asked where she wanted to go, she said, ‘We’ll go up to the Heights, Queenston Heights Park. I like to walk there,’” he said. 

During the unveiling, friends and loved ones shared happy memories of and mingled over warm apple cider and snacks.

The bench itself was scribed by woodworker and longtime volunteer and founding member of the Friends of Fort George, Jim Alexander. 

Alexander and his wife Erika shared a friendship with Leyland for 30 years while working together with the organization.

Alexander also worked on the bench opposite Leyland’s, dedicated to Bob Malcomson.

“When Louise passed, I said to (Jim), ‘It would be fitting to have a memory of Louise like that opposite,'” Erika told The Lake Report. 

“It was just such a wonderful way to have that constant memory of somebody who did something very important in keeping history alive,” she said.

Now, Leyland’s memorial bench sits outside of Brock’s Monument at Queenston Heights.

“We look forward to spending some time on the bench with her,” Erika said.

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