William Prouty on the far left at the 2017 Knowlton Literary Festival

William Prouty, who has died at the age of 85, was a poet, university professor and world traveller and all round man of letters. He was born in Bondville, the son of Harold Prouty and Annie Eldridge, two families with a long history in the area.

He attended the local one- room school house in Bondville before going to high school in Knowlton then on to Bishop’s University. He then went on to the University of New Brunswick and Oxford University in England.

William taught at McGill University, then spent five years in Ethiopia, teaching at Haile Selassie I University. He returned to Canada and spent the rest of his career teaching at the University of New Brunswick’s St. John campus.

He spent summers at the family home in Bondville and retired there in 1998. He was active in the community, was a member of the Yamaska Literacy Council and involved with Village Reads, a program at Knowlton Academy that gives children individual help with reading.

William led a kind of literary salon known locally as Purple Wednesdays. “It wasn’t a book club, more like a university course. William would pick the books,” says Jenny Jonas. “He was much loved.”

He is survived by his sister Brenda and his partner, Daniel Robitaille.

William published many volumes of poetry, some under a pen name, Alexander McGinnis, including this one:

snowstorms were exciting

everything became soft

and the nights were soundless

lying in bed was like hibernating

sunshine showed us drifts as high as horses

through them we dug labyrinthine forts

from which to attack neanderthal neighbours.

Photo by Nathalie Rivard