The following was written by Sharon Ross, Development Coordinator for Topsham Public Library.
The Board of Trustees of the Topsham Public Library will be celebrating the opening of its newly configured West Garden Patio on May 20 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. with an opening tea that will also recognize a major donation by Brunswick resident Ruth Bouchard Klein.
In 2016, Ruth donated $15,000 in support of the library’s mission of being a community center for all ages, and to honor the legacy of her Franco-American Heritage, her parents Emilienne Josephine Painchaud Bouchard and Ovila Henri Bouchard, and her late husband, Walter J. Klein, Jr. The library is recognizing Ruth and her family with a patio container garden, built and curated by library garden volunteer coordinator Sarah Wolpow, and memorial benches made by The Woodshaper Shop of Dedham, Maine.
Ruth is one of 11 children who grew up in the French neighborhood of Topsham Heights along the Androscoggin River. Three generations of her family worked at the Cabot Manufacturing Mill, or Fort Andross, during manufacturing’s heyday. She has fond memories of her childhood in the Heights, where fellow French-Canadians and Franco-Americans built a close-knit community and often shared bounties from their home gardens. These memories may have sparked Ruth’s passion for gardening, which eventually led her to the Topsham Public Library as a volunteer for the library’s gardens. Ruth is a certified master gardener and has taught several master gardener workshops at the library.
The gardens at the Topsham Public Library is the product of dedicated volunteers who have created several demonstration gardens under the direction of certified master gardeners, including current garden volunteer coordinator Sarah Wolpow. Demonstration gardens include a tea garden, children’s garden, edible forest garden, and now our West Garden Patio container garden.
Ruth is a graduate of the University of Maine and has a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Columbia University. In 2014, she published, Je Me Souviens, a tribute to her Franco-American heritage and history in the Topsham/Brunswick area. She was also featured in a short documentary, “The Invisible People of Brunswick Maine,” produced in 2009 by Christian Schneider.