Born in Manitoba, John Burtniak moved his family to the Niagara Peninsula in 1943. After earning a
Bachelor of Arts in Ottawa as well as his Bachelor and Masters of Library Science, he joined Brock
University’s staff in 1965 and retired in 2001 after 36 years of service.
As an author, presenter, and historical tour guide, John co-authored Railways in the Niagara Peninsula
and The Mighty Niagara: One River, Two Frontiers, a work examining the similarities and differences
between the two sides of the Niagara River. In 1979, he founded Brock University’s Niagara Peninsula
History Conferences, which were held annually until 2001.
While working with Brock University Library’s Special Collections, Burtniak developed the Niagara
Collection, including printed and original works relating to all aspects of the history, development and
character of Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula and New York’s Niagara Frontier. This specialized local
collection has national significance. John Burtniak’s Niagara Collection, housed at the Niagara Falls Art
Gallery, includes more than 400 Niagara engravings, lithographs, aquatints, serigraphs and etchings, as
well as early illustrated travelers accounts and guide books.
John has served on numerous Provincial and Regional community boards in the past, including the City
of Niagara Falls Board of Museums. He is currently the President of the Lundy’s Lane Historical Society,
Old St. John’s Stamford Heritage Association and the Niagara Falls Art Gallery.
John Burtniak received the Province of Ontario Bi-Centennial Medal in 1984, and the Ontario Outstanding
Achievement Award for Volunteerism in 1992. He also earned Ontario’s Municipal Recreation
Association Award for Volunteer Contributions, the City of Niagara Falls’ Volunteer Recognition Award
and other Heritage Awards.