Barry’s Bay – Barry’s Bay and area graduating students at Madawaska Valley District High School will be the beneficiaries of a new bursary made possible by a $101,000 donation by a former area resident.
Mike Kosnaskie, who now resides in Stittsville part-time, donated the funds to the Renfrew County District School Board (RCDSB) recently for the first $1,000 to be awarded to an MVDHS student this year. The remaining $100,000 will be carried forward in perpetuity for other deserving students.
“It is really done on behalf of my parents and brother,” Mr. Kosnaskie said of his decision to donate the money. “It’s $1,000 this year and then $100,000 I bequeathed to the school board to be placed in a perpetual interest-bearing account to be used for future awards.”
Mr. Kosnaskie said his late parents, Bronas and Veronica, because he was hyperactive, showed a lot of patience with him over the years and guided him in a positive and productive direction which placed him in a position to make the donation.
He stated, “My older brother, Tony, was a very kind and generous person. He took our parents across Canada on trips with him. He was very helpful to me and encouraging as well.”
A graduate of the one-room schoolhouse at Halfway — between Barry’s Bay and Combermere on the Old Barry’s Bay Road — for his elementary education and St. Mary’s Convent High School in Combermere in the late 1950s, he recalled how his parents had to pay a $13 monthly tuition fee.
“Obviously that was a lot of money for people who worked a very stony farm,” Mr. Kosnaskie reflected. “It was very inspiring that they valued education and encouraged me to continue my schooling.”
He shared his philosophy with the Leader.
“My parents didn’t owe me anything; I owe them a lot. They kept me and guided me for 19 years of my life. That is a good reason I feel I owe a great debt of gratitude to them.”
Mr. Kosnaskie taught elementary school for two years, which he enjoyed. He felt compelled to take on a job at the County of Renfrew in the property assessment department which paid more to support a family. He was required to take a three-year course in assessment practice and principles through Queen’s University in Kingston from 1968 to 1971. He completed this and a five-year apprenticeship and after the province assumed the responsibility for assessments in 1970, he remained in his role until his retirement in 1997. He worked out of the central office in Pembroke. After retirement
he has enjoyed developing an organic apple orchard and creating hiking trails through beautiful untouched forest land on the childhood farm.
Mr. Kosnaskie said when he advised the school board of his decision to donate the money, they appeared to be somewhat surprised.
“I assume they were flabbergasted because this award really speaks to ordinary hard-working people who helped to build this country into what it is today,” he stated. “Politics, entertainment and royalty get a lot of exposure, but the ordinary person is sort of left by the wayside. My parents worked very hard and inspired me to be able to do this on behalf of not just them, but other working-
class people — loggers, construction workers, etc.” he added.
Mr. Kosnaskie is letting the board choose who the recipient/recipients will be each year and what amount will be presented. The award will be presented to an MVDHS graduating student/students who are either entering a trade or pursuing post-secondary studies.
The first bursary was presented last Wednesday night to Emma Foy.