Remembering a legacy
Francis Burton accepted a scroll from SDSG MPP Jim McDonell on July 7 during the bench dedication to her late husband Ian Mitchell. From left, Burton, McDonell and SNC board chair Bill Smirle.       Sawyer Helmer photo

Francis Burton and Bill Smirle were the first to test out the bench at the Reveler Conservation Area after the ceremonial ribbon cutting. Sawyer Helmer photo

Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
Record Staff
CRYSLER – On Sat., July 7, the South Nation Conservation Authority paid tribute to an influential member of the community. Ian Mitchell, an avid geocacher and long-time chair of the SNC communications committee, was remembered and honoured with a bench in the Reveler Conservation Area in Crysler.

Roughly 50 fellow geocachers, friends and dignitaries made the half-kilometre trek to the bench, situated along the trails. Mitchell’s wife, Francis Burton explained the idea for the bench came about after one of their many excursions in which Burton bird-watched and Mitchell geocached. Mitchell, sitting on the grass to rest and being of a certain age, exclaimed “Why isn’t there a bench?” When he passed in August of 2016, the geocaching community of eastern Ontario and SNC were determined to create a memorial for Mitchell, hence, Burton suggested the bench and now two benches are situated throughout the SDG area.

SDSG MPP Jim McDonell attended the dedication and explained his admiration for Mitchell. “He was one of those people who was not originally from the area that got involved and really made an impact,” McDonell said.

Mitchell got involved with SNC in 2009 while trying to promote geocaching in the area. Tim Jackson, Geocachers of Eastern Ontario, said when Mitchell got involved in 2009 he had two objectives: the first was to have good quality and well maintained geocaches throughout the area and the second was to promote and have more regular geocaching events. Jackson said, “thanks to Ian and some others, most people in eastern Ontario have now heard of geocaching and many have even tried it.”

SNC board of directors’, chair, Bill Smirle, said he was lucky to have called Mitchell a friend and that “he was an outstanding chair because he listened and pushed ideas forward. He has a legacy that will be long remembered.”

Finally, Burton was the last to speak and gave to those present a piece of wisdom from her late husband. “His advice would be, life is short so take advantage of it and get out there and cache.”