An account of Saskatoon Community Foundation’s First 20 Years
On October 30th 1969 six well known Saskatonians met under the chairmanship of Frederick F. MacDermid, Q.C., to consider a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan for an Act to incorporate the Saskatoon Foundation. There was
unanimous acceptance of MacDermid’s offer to prepare draft legislation for submission as a Private Member’s Bill. The result was an Act of Incorporation which received royal assent on April 18th 1970.
In the following page I have attempted to tell the story of the Saskatoon Foundation as it developed from an idea in the minds of its founders to its present level of maturity. Much of the content is based on personal recollections; hopefully they will reflect some of the patience and enthusiasm shown by those who have supported the Foundation during its formative years.
Not long before his death Fred MacDermid talked with me about plans for his funeral. He was not at all concerned for himself, but he wanted to be sure that “things were done properly”, with no hitches to embarrass his wife Margaret. Fred was a very private man for whom the Saskatoon Foundation provided a way of expressing love for the city which he often said “had been so good to him”.
None of us knows what challenges the City of Saskatoon will face in the future, but perhaps this record of achievement of its Community Foundation will provide inspiration to those who accept responsibility for maintaining its reputation as a good place in which to live and raise a family.
BEFORE THE BEGINNING
During the 1960’s when I was Chairman of the Saskatoon Public School Board, a young friend called to ask about establishing a trust fund in memory of his father. He wanted the proceeds of a considerable investment to provide an annual scholarship for a member of the graduating class of a Saskatoon collegiate. There were problems involved in administering the sum of money he had in mind, and before we had them resolved he had been transferred to another province and had lost interest in the idea; somehow I felt that we had failed both my friend and the community in which he and his father had lived for so many years.
On another occasion I found myself ex officio a member of a committee named by the courts to distribute funds held by the Saskatoon Children’s Shelter when it was taken over by the provincial government. The social agencies to whom we allotted money were worthy recipients, but I felt that it would have been more appropriate to leave the principal sum intact, and use the interest to perpetuate the memory of people like Alexander Stephen “Daddy” Wright, who had served as secretary of the Children’s Aid Society for 32 years.
These unrelated experiences started me thinking about the need for some sort of trust that would provide continuing benefits for our city. Consequently I asked the Civic Affairs Committee of the Saskatoon Board of Trade to discuss the matter, and their chairman agreed to put it on his agenda. Then serendipity stepped in, causing pioneer lawyer Frederick F. MacDermid, Q.C. to read the bulletin containing the agenda. We were both present at the next meeting of the committee; when it adjourned we walked and talked our way down 21st Street to his office, and over coffee the next morning, the Saskatoon Foundation started to take shape!
During the next two weeks I met with Mr. MacDermid half a dozen times. He had looked at the operation of a number of Foundations, both public and private, and as we went through his files it became clear that he was proposing an undertaking far more extensive than I had envisioned. The Winnipeg Foundation founded in 1921, seemed to offer the best example for us to follow. Its rate of growth had been slow for the first 25 years, but in 1968 its assets had risen to 9 million and during that year it had distributed nearly half million in grants to community agencies. With allowances made for the difference in size of our cities, it seemed to me that it was possible for Fred MacDermid to emulate the success of W.F Alloway, the pioneer banker who had nurtured the Winnipeg enterprise. All Fred needed to get on with the job was some encouragement and help from younger legs. I was proud to become his first assistant.
When we talked of the selection of an interim Board of Directors it was agreed that the criteria for its members should be integrity, experience, and proven records of community service. The Winnipeg pattern called for 7 board members, so quite immodestly we nominated each other and adjourned to prepare invividual lists of suggestions for the other 5 places. The fact that each person chosen should be available for several years of service made it all the more important for us to choose wisely.
When Fred and I met again with lists in our hands I think that each was prepared for a long session of bargaining. That two men so different in age and background would come up with almost identical choices seemed impossible, but it actually happened. In less than an hour it was agreed that MacDermid would call on Sid Buckwold, Jack Leddy, and Blair Nelson, while Forsyth would visit Albert Flavelle and Allan Tubby. We were so confident in our choices that we named no alternatives. Within a week we had a positive response from each of our men.
On October 30th 1969 our interim board met for the first time. Mr. MacDermid agreed to conduct these preliminary meetings, and he did so with enthusiasm as he congratulated us on or decision to become founders of an institution that could make a great contribution to the quality of life in Saskatoon. Our discussion centered on the form of constitution that would best serve our purpose, and it was agreed that we should seek advice from the Winnipeg Foundation on this as well as on other aspects of our organization.
Early in his thinking about a community foundation Fred MacDermid had met with Hugh Benham, the executive director of the Winnipeg Foundation, and had obtained a promise of assistance in structuring our project if and when it got under way. Mr. Benham came to Saskatoon for several days as a guest of the MacDermids, and we could have not have wished for a more congenial or a more helpful advisor. Among other suggestions he advised that we should seek an Act of Incorporation from the Saskatchewan Legislature because this would provide us with the prestige and stability necessary for long term success.
With the zeal of a missionary Hugh Benham emphasized the need for us to inspire feeling of trust and confidence within our community, while preparing ourselves for a period of slow growth comparable to that experienced by the Winnipeg Foundation in the first 25 years of its experience. He advised us to avoid highly publicized appeals for funds, choosing instead a well considered approach to persons who have shown an interest in philanthropy, and professionals who might be consulted for advice concerning estate planning.
After Mr. Benham departure we took a few days to consider his suggestions and then met to talk about the content of a draft bill for submission to the Legislature. At the beginning of this exercise Fred MacDermid warned us not to fuss about details, but rather to pay attention to the basic principles we wanted to have in our legislation. When Fred offered to draft a bill in accordance with our wishes we were wise enough to accept his offer with thanks and sighs of relief. In a short time we agreed on guidelines for legislation that would include;
- A definition of the aims and objects and scope of activities of the Saskatoon Foundation.
- A named advisory board, and provision for its continuance by a board of appointers made up of incumbents of certain high offices.
- Permit the Foundation to receive donations or bequest of either money or property, and to appoint a trust company or companies to act as trustees for such donations.
- Permit the transfer to the Foundation of trust funds that are no longer active.
- Allow discretion in the matter of acceptance of donations from outside the City of Saskatoon, and the distribution of funds derived from them.
- Require audits, publication of financial statements, and prohibit payment of remuneration to board members.
The MacDermid Draft was prepared in record time: it met all of our concerns. It proposed that those appointed ex officio to the Board of Appointers would be the Mayor of Saskatoon, the President of the University of Saskatchewan, the Senior Judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench, resident in Saskatoon, and the Senior Judge of the District Court, resident in Saskatoon.
In March of 1970 a Petition “praying for the incorporation of the petitioners as a body corporate and politic under the name of the Saskatoon Foundation,” was submitted to the Legislature of the Province of Saskatchewan, of which at that time I was a member. Albert Flavelle and Allan Tubby came to Regina to join me in presenting our bill to a standing committee, and when that had been accomplished I looked forward to the privilege of taking it to the floor of the legislature. To my horror a member of the opposition, having noted my name among the petitioners, rose in his place to call attention of the Speaker to what he considered to be an impropriety. Not wishing to complicate the birth of our offspring by entering into a procedural hassle, I turned the job over to my seat mate, fellow Saskatonian Jeff Charlebois, who thus became the father of record.
Our Act of Incorporation received Royal Assent on April 18th 1970. The Saskatoon Foundation was ready for business!
HIGHLIGHTS OF GROWTH
Although Fred MacDermid served as chairman for our preliminary meetings, he made it clear that he did not wish to continue in that position after he had guided us through the business of incorporation. Accordingly, when we held our first official meeting we elected Albert Flavelle as chairman, and I agreed to continue for a term as secretary/treasurer.
After a little coaxing Fred agreed to remain on the advisory board and for a number of years we benefited from his wisdom, good humor and generosity (the money for such things as Hugh Benham’s visits, and the fees involved in petitioning for our legislation, came out of his pocket). While each of us provided some money for start up costs, as keeper of the books I was aware of many unrecorded benevolences from our founders. The generosity of board members Buckwold, Flavelle, Nelson and Tubby in picking up bills for special events and services made it possible to show only token amounts for administrative expenses during the first ten years of our operation.
Having presented the early action in some detail, it is probably in the best interest of the reader to have the remainder of this narrative delivered in the form of abstracts from minutes of the advisory board.
1970 – The first year.
Fred MacDermid reported that he had submitted all of the documents required by the Federal Department of Revenue for registration of the Foundation as a charitable trust. He then outlined the regulations set out by the Department to govern operations of Foundations such as ours.
The firm of Peat, Marwick, Mitchell was appointed as auditor with its managing partner Gundy McLeod offering a fee in keeping with our fledgling status.
At the same meeting the Royal Trust Company was named as our financial agent, also with most reasonable fees. It was explained that any major donor would have the right to choose a trust company to administer a donation.
Publication of our annual financial statement as required by the Act of Incorporation occupied a space of one column by two inches in the Star Phoenix.
Dr. B.A. Jackson, a well known Saskatoon surgeon, became the Foundation’s first major donor when he established the Joyce Jackson Charitable Trust for Children as a memorial to his first born daughter. Dr. Jackson proposed making annual contributions until the trust reached $100,000, with the stipulation that revenues be designated for projects that would benefit the lives of young people.
W.G. (Bill) Manning, a former city alderman and retired educator with a keen interest in community affairs and finances, was named by the Board of Appointers to become the 8th member of our board.
The Foundation made its first grant with $600 from the Joyce Jackson Trust going to the Council for Crippled and Adults to help renovate its prosthetics workshop. Through the generosity of Allan Tubby, who took on the job, the Council received much more than $600 worth of work, and we took credit for the whole thing!
Our grants were more than doubled when we were able to provide $700 each to the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. to take underprivileged youngsters to a summer camp.
When Albert Flavelle took up residence in Victoria he ceased to be eligible for membership on the Advisory Board, so we made him an honorary member in the hope that he would join us when he visited Saskatoon. His service as first chairman had been exemplary. Blair Nelson was elected as our new Chairman, with Allan Tubby as Vice Chairman; Margaret Harris then became the first women member of the board. She brought with her a wealth of experience in community activities such as the Local Council of Women and the board of the Y.W.C.A.
Recognition was given to Jim Struthers and the editorial staff of the Star-Phoenix, and also to Dennis Fisher and the staff members of CFQC for stimulating public interest in the work of the Foundation.
A second grant to the Council for Crippled Children and Adults provided $1,200 for a chair lift on their Bunny bus, while a $1,000 grant to Interval House helped furnish a playroom for children whose mothers were using that place of refuge.
Donated Capital increased to $60,000, providing income sufficient for grants to 5 community groups, including $1,000 to the junior development program of the Saskatoon Symphony.
To encourage public support we produced a brochure designed by Dennis Fisher, funded by Fred MacDermid, and distributed by members of the advisory board.
Consideration was given to the appointment of a non-member of our board to serve as executive officer. Advice from the Winnipeg Foundation was that we would benefit from such an appointment but that it might be many years before we could afford more than a token payment for his services. Administration cost for the year totaled $131!
The question of a change in our administration was answered by the timely appearance of Mr. V.G. MaCready after his retirement from a managerial position with the Bank of Montreal; Vern was highly respected in the community and he possessed all of the other qualifications that we had hoped to find. To facilitate the matter Fred MacDermid offered an expense account, Blair Nelson arranged secretarial help at CFQC, while Bill Manning and I donated our titles as treasure and secretary. With the creation of a 3 member committee to make recommendations to the board regarding the distribution of grants, our changeover was complete, and Vern McCready quickly became a tower of strength.
Death came to Dr. Bart Jackson, the pioneer surgeon who had funded our first major trust.
Our annual report showed a further 25% increase in earnings.
The resignation of W.G. (Bill) Manning was accepted with regret. During the 7 years of his membership he had contributed a great deal to the sound management of the Foundation. R.G. (Bob) Klombies was named as his successor by the Board of Appointers.
Initial funding for the George Porteous Memorial Prize was provided by Kay Porteous. Its proceeds are devoted to awards for the pursuit of excellence by participants in the junior development of the Saskatoon Symphony.
Fred MacDermid gave his hearing impairment as the reason for trading his active membership on the board for an honorary one. Without his chuckle and his words of encouragement our subsequent meetings were never quite the same. He was pleased when the appointers named Ross Pinder to succeed him.
Included in $13,600 of grants was seed money for the Cosmo Civic Day Care, and the Saskatoon Creative Playschool. Almost 80% of funding was made in accordance with the terms of the Joyce Jackson Charitable Trust for Children.
Guidelines sent to prospective applicants for funding contained a reminder that except in unusual circumstance, grants would be provided only to organizations registered as charities with the Department of National Revenue.
Our capital funding increased by $18,500, including our first record of an anonymous donation. In welcoming this indication of growth, Chairman Blair Nelson suggested that we should begin to consider those changes in administration that would be required by large bequest that were expected to occur. Vern MaCready indicated the substantial increase in capital that we might expect in the next decade, and outlined information he had obtained from the Vancouver Foundation regarding its operating procedures.
As a member of the Canadian Life Underwriters Association, Gerry Meckelborg made a presentation explaining the potential for capital funding through insurance policies naming the Foundation as beneficiary. Mr. Meckelborg and his sister Annette were the first to select this form of bequest.
A start up grant of $2,000 was made to the Carlyle King Branch Library to enable it to establish a toy-lending service for its community.
Because of extra responsibilities at St. Paul’s Hospital Dr. Jack Leddy requested that he be replaced on the Advisory Board. His special insights had been of great value and his resignation was accepted with regret. The vacancy thus created was filled by the appointment of Derek Arnold.
A terse entry that he himself placed in the minute book was no indication of the feeling of loss we experiences when Vern MaCready told us that, for personal reasons, he could no longer serve as our executive director. Vern’s years of volunteer work left the Foundation with a meticulously kept set of records and an improved level of community recognition – achievements most helpful in the recruitment of Mr. J.A. Pringle as his successor.
Jack Pringle had just retired as Vice President, Administration, of the University of Saskatchewan. He brought with him a broad spectrum of experience combined with an active interest in practical philanthropy.
As secretary to Blair Nelson, Miss Annette Meckelborg had for some time been attending to our minutes, our telephone, and a host of other tasks vital to the well being of the Foundation. As compensation for all this dedicated service we bestowed on her the title of Honorary Secretary.
A very important event in this year of change was the birth of Ross Pinder’s brain child, which he named the Century Club in honor our city’s centennial. His first report gave us an indication of the potential of the fund raising idea; from a selected mailing list of only 73 names he acknowledged receipts totaling $12,000.
Among 16 grants provided for in the 1982 budget were first time fundings for medical research at the University Hospital, and seed money for the Society for the Protection of Children.
Included in the distribution of $18,000 to 14 approved agencies was a grant of $3,200 to the Y.W.C.A to help meet an emergency caused by flooding at their old building, and first time grants to the Mennonite Central Committee’s Mediation Project, the Lion’s Eye Bank, the Photographers Gallery, and the Elizabeth Fry Society.
We were saddened to learn of the death of Albert Flavelle, the first chairman of our Advisory Board. His life is memorialized by an open Trust Fund bearing his name.
In accepting the resignation of Margaret Harris, members of the board expressed their gratitude for the knowledge of life and work that she had shared with us. In her 9 years of service she had been active in the determination of grants as well as in the raising of money to fund them. Fortunately we were able to recommend an able successor to the appointers in the person of Madge McKillop, who had recently retired from the position of Administrative Assistant at the University Hospital. Madge was familiar with many facets of life in Saskatoon, and quickly found her niche as chairperson of our grants committee.
$21,000 of earned income was distributed, with a start up grant going to the Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE), and a sustaining grant for a children’s workshop at the Mendel Art Gallery. City Hospital benefited from a $3,500 grant for equipment, while in the area of the performing arts, assistance was given to the Saskatoon Symphony, the Saskatoon Opera Association, The Saskatoon Music Festival, and Perephone Theatre. Our interest in the health of children was continued with grants to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Society for Anorexia and Bulimea, and for a conference for mentally retarded youth sponsored by the S.A.M.R.
The 100th birthday of our founder, Fred MacDermid was celebrated with due ceremony when he accepted the office of Honorary President of the Century Club. Ross Pinder added to the spirit of the occasion by announcing a substantial increase in the membership of that select group.
While there was little change in the amount of money available for distribution, first time grants were made to the Food Bank, The Youth Orchestra, the Society for Autism, Bridge House, and the Boys and Girls Club. Photographers Gallery received a second installment of a grant to assist in the renovation of its new quarters.
On May 9th we were saddened by the death of Fred MacDermid, but thankful for the privilege of sharing his dreams for the Saskatoon Foundation. An immediate bequest of $100,000 brought those dreams closer to reality.
The Junior Achievement Program, the Gabriel Dancers, and the Saskatoon Native Theatre were given first time grants. Designated funds provided for the first award of a Rouse Nursing Scholarship at the University of Saskatchewan. Continued assistance was given to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and the Crocus Co-op.
Allan Tubby, a founding member of the Foundation and vice chairman of its Advisory Board, requested that the Board of Appointers be asked to name a replacement for him. Allan had already been the recipient of so many awards in recognition of his contributions to his profession, his university, his community and his province that we could only honor him with an honorary membership.
With Nr. Tubby’s retirement Bob Klombies was elected as vice chairman and the appointers names W.T. (Tom) Malloy to the board.
Income from capital funds of $457,000 was produced to 32 agencies, including completion of previous commitment to Lutheran Sunset Home, Sherbrooke Community Centre, and Friendship Inn. First time grants were made to Richmond Heights Adult Day Care, and Meewasin Authority. The latter was the first installment of a 5 year commitment to assist in developing Wanuskewin Park.
For the first time we made use of Section 3 of our Act of Incorporation which allows acceptance of a trust fund from charitable agencies which are no longer active. In this case we took responsibility for $29,000 accumulated by the Community Aid and Resource Centre, and allotted a year’s income from this to assist in renovation to One Sky Cross-Cultural Centre. Other first time funding was given to the Salvation Army’s Bethany Home, the local branch of the Canadian Paraplegic Association, and the newly formed Services for Seniors.
Audited reports for this year are not available at time of writing, but record indicates that $53,000 was distributed to 32 local agencies.
A summary of the Saskatoon Foundation’s activities to this time shows that in the process of accumulating over $500,000 in capital, we had distributed $270,500 through 308 separate grants to 100 Saskatoon agencies – a modest beginning, but surely one that justifies the faith of those who have entrusted their time and money to its care.
SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS
From time to time over the past 20 years the Foundation’s Advisory Board has thought about setting out rigid rules governing the awarding of grants, but has ended up by considering each application on its own merits.
Of course there are rules implicit in the Act of Incorporation and regulations of Revenue Canada, and always the stipulations of donors must be followed whenever possible. Within these parameters it has been possible to allocate some percentage of earned income to each of categories described as Child and Youth Service; Family and General Services; Cultural and Education Services; Recreational Services. Many activities have a legitimate claim for inclusion in more than one of these categories, which is why rigid rules seem inappropriate.
For the most part the Saskatoon Foundation has shown a preference for funding capital expenditure, special projects, and emergency situations, rather than participating in operating budgets, but again, rigid rules do not always apply to agencies with innovative ideas. Some of our most rewarding results have come from small investments of seed money.
As Saskatonian gradually learn to accept the Foundation as a reliable trustee for the perpetuation of their favorite charitable, religious, educational, or recreational activity, it is likely that they will remember to make more use of it as they draw up wills which contain gifts to the community.
FOUNDING BOARD OF THE SASKATOON FOUNDATION
Sidney L. Buckwold, Merchant
President, Buckwold’s Wholesale Ltd.
Alderman, City of Saskatoon, 1948-1957
Mayor, City of Saskatoon, 1958-1963 and 1968-1971
President, Canadian Federation of Mayors and Municipalities, 1960
Appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1971
T. Alber Flavelle, Automotive Dealer (Deceased January 1984)
President and co-founder, Merlin Motors
Alderman, City of Saskatoon, 1953-1954 and 1961-1966
President of the Saskatoon Community Chest, and Riversdale Tennis Club, and Saskatoon Badmington Club, and the Riversdale Country Club.
Chairman of the Public Affairs Committee and Treasurer of the Saskatoon Board of Trade.
Austin Forsyth, Optometrist
President, Saskatchewan Optometric Association, 1956-1957
Member of the Saskatoon Public School Board, 1956-1966
Member of the Saskatoon Collegiate Board, 1964-1966
Member of Saskatchewan Legislature, 1967-1971
John E. Leddy, Surgeon
Chief of Surgery, St. Paul’s Hospital
Chief of General Surgical Service, University Hospital
President and Lifetime Governor of Royal Canadian Golf Association
Frederick F. MacDermid, Barrister (Deceased May 1986)
Called to the Manitoba Bar in 1907, and the Saskatchewan Bar in 1908
Named King’s Counsel in 1926
President of the Riverside Country Club in 1920 and the Saskatoon Club in 1923
Blair Nelson, Broadcast Executive
President of CFQC Ltd.
Alderman, City of Saskatoon, 1958-1965
Member of Board of Centennial Auditorium
Member of Western Association of Broadcasters and Member of Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame
Allan Tubby, Civil Engineer (Deceased Jan 1990)
Chairman, Tubby and Wilks, Contractors
Chairman of Saskatoon City Hospital Board
Chairman of University of Saskatchewan Board of Governors, 1967-1971
President of the Saskatoon Board of Trade, 1962
President of the Saskatchewan Association of Professional Engineers
THE BOARD OF APPOINTERS TO THE SASKATOON FOUNDATION
Founding Members Ex Officio
Mr. Justice D.C. Disbery, Court of Queen’s Bench
Judge W.G.E. Campbell, Saskatchewan District Court
May H.S. Sears, City of Saskatoon
President J.W.T. Spinks, University of Saskatchewan
Judge E.N.Hughes, following the death of Judge Campbell
Judge Mary Batten, fpllowing the resignation from the bench by Judge Hughes
President R.W. Begg, Successor to Dr. Spinks
Mayor C.E. Wright, Successor to Mr. Sears
Mr. Jutice R.L. Sirois, following retirement of Mr. Disbery
President Leo Kristjanson, Successor to Dr. Begg
Mayor H. Dayday, Successor to Mr. Wright
President George Ivany, Successor to Dr. Kristjanson
In addition to creating an unrestricted fund of almost $300,000, what has come tobe known to us as Pinder’s Baby has provided more than 400 Saskatonians with an opportunity to participate in the work of their Community Foundation.
 When the District Court of amalgamated with the Court of Queen’s Bench, the number of Appointers was reduced to three.
 This was the beginning of a relationship with the Star Phoenix that has been a great help to the Foundation.
 Dr. Jackson died in 1978 when his endowment was half way to its goal. His bequest and the continued interest of his family and friends as brought its total to $125,000, which has already provided revenues of $100,000 for services to children and youth.
 Mr. Manning accepted the office of treasurer shortly after his appointment.
 Agency now known as the Saskatchewan Abilities Council.
 Because of the interest created by this action it is estimated that the Foundation has been named as beneficiary in policies in excess of half a million dollars.
 The basis of this appeal is a $100 donation as a membership to the Century Club, with continuing donations each year earning the designation of Life Member when a total of $1,000 has been attained.