official portrait of Mayor Roly Bird in City Hall in 1985
Love to Learn

Roly Bird Collection Now Online

Burlington Public Library is pleased to announce a brand-new collection of digitized items from the Roly Bird Collection is now available in our Burlington Digital Archive.

It was the late 1970s when former Mayor Roly Bird was first elected to City Council as the Alderman for Ward 4. After retiring in 1991, he gathered political records and memorabilia spanning his 13-year public service career. He wanted to make the workings of municipal government readily available to everyone—from school kids to researchers and scholars—while offering a fascinating look at local life in the 1980s.

Lucky for us, he chose to donate his collection to Burlington Public Library, ensuring it would be freely accessible to all.

Who Was Roly Bird?

Born and raised in New Brunswick, Roly Bird settled in Burlington in 1956 with his wife Ethel and four children. In addition to his elected roles, he sat on the board for many committees and institutions, including the Burlington Public Library Board.

In his political life, Roly was sometimes controversial. Still, he was also a man of conviction and held to his beliefs. He was dedicated to expanding business and opportunity in Burlington, supported the arts, and was involved with charitable organizations and initiatives. He was also a large part of the success of maintaining a relationship with Burlington's twin city, Itabashi, in Japan, through dedication and friendship.

Roly Bird passed away at his home on Wednesday, January 7, 2004, at 73. However, his legacy of service lives on in the memorial park dedicated to him by the City in 2005 and the Tree of Good Fortune outside of City Hall.

The Roly Bird Collection

In 2003, Roly Bird donated thirty boxes of items to Burlington Public Library—including meeting minutes, correspondence, memorabilia, photographs, artwork, plaques, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous political files and records.

streetscape of downtown Burlington in August 1983

Strolling in downtown Burlington in August 1983, from the Roly Bird Collection

He also donated a gracious endowment to use in the care and processing of the collection. This endowment and a Young Canada Works Grant from the Government of Canada allowed the library to hire an internship student to process and digitize the collection.

Select ‘Browse by Collection’ in the Burlington Digital Archive and scroll to find the digitized Roly Bird Collection. A complete index with item descriptions is also available on our Archeion page by selecting the yellow “fonds level description” link on the Roly Bird page.

How You Can Contribute to Local History

Many items in our local history collection have come to us through the generosity of donors. Our Local History Collection Policy guides our decisions on donations.

Burlington Public Library gratefully accepts monetary donations and bequests to support this collection, allowing for special projects like the Roly Bird Fonds. To inquire further about local history or donate to the collection, please don't hesitate to contact the Local History & Digital Archive Coordinator.