Ken Burns attended the University of Guelph, graduating in 1975 with a Specialized Honours Degree in Geography. He returned on a permanent basis to the summer job he had had the year before at the Canadian National Railway Co as a trainman, and later as conductor and, in 1979, as a locomotive engineer.
Ken came to South Simcoe that same year. He and wife, Trudy moved in 1990 to Alliston, where they have lived for almost 30 years, and where they raised their five children. Having an interest in the past and its influence on the present, Ken joined the Alliston Historical Society, through which he came into contact with the Arts Council in its early years.
Since retirement from the railroad in 2007, Ken has been active in several volunteer positions in the local community and beyond, including the past 11 years as a director on the board of the Stevenson Memorial Hospital Foundation. There he has held the positions of Vice-Chairperson 2009-2010, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, 2010-2012 and Secretary 2012-2019.
Other volunteer activities include Alliston Out of the Cold and the Boards of Directors of the Simcoe-Grey PC Riding Association and the Conservative Party of Canada Electoral District Association.