It’s autumn in the Meewasin valley, the season that was Gladys Hall’s favourite.
She cherished the river valley in her beloved Saskatoon, with its fall colours, trees, lawns, trails, and sense of community. Although she was unable to enjoy the trails due to limited mobility, the beauty of the park landscape was a source of pride for her. At her home in the Franklin building, she lived just a few blocks away from Meewasin Valley.
During Gladys’ lifetime, the Meewasin Valley Authority was one of seven charities close to her heart, these seven comprising the group of beneficiaries of the Gladys Hall Fund established with the Saskatoon Community Foundation, and inspiring her wish to giving back both during her lifetime and after her death.
Gladys was born near Landis, Saskatchewan in 1920, the second child of Evan and Paula Hall. Her Canadian father fought overseas in World War I where he met her mother, a Belgian governess. The family set up their homestead and began farming in the Landis area, because Evan had received a quarter section of land as a war veteran. From her mother, Paula, Gladys received some education in French as she grew up, and she recalled listening to her mother hold conversations in French on the telephone party line.
Gladys attended a rural school in Needwood, southwest of Landis, and then continued her education in the city, graduating in 1941 from Success Secretarial College, now the Saskatoon Business College.
During her working life, she worked for her entire 43-year career with the Agriculture Canada Research Station on the University of Saskatchewan campus, after brief positions with a hatchery, McGavin’s bakery, and the Department of Entomology.
An independent woman, Gladys was determined to save and invest her earnings wisely, providing for herself without family for support. She made a point of regularly setting aside a small amount of money for investment, ensuring she could continue to live comfortably in her retirement. Bit by bit her investment grew, and she relied on professional financial planners for sound advice to manage her nest egg. With her sensible and community-minded outlook, it was only natural for Gladys to look outward to community needs once she had achieved her personal goal of financial independence.
The CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) was a long-term beneficiary of Gladys’ volunteer efforts for 22 years. She spent hours reading aloud with her modulated, gentle voice so that visually impaired people could also enjoy the literature she enjoyed. And when she thought of giving back to community, she named the CNIB as one of the seven charities designated in her endowed fund.
Trusting the Saskatoon Community Foundation with her endowed fund proved to be a worthwhile investment strategy for Gladys that enabled her to provide financially for multiple charitable organizations that were personally significant to her.
It was the perfect solution for the community-minded career woman to create the personal legacy of impact she desired.
Gladys was recognized with the Centennial Medal for her lifetime of service to the volunteer sector and the government of Canada.
In addition to the CNIB and the Meewasin Valley Authority, the other charities Gladys Hall designated in her fund included Autism Services, Ronald McDonald House, Saskatoon Interval House, the Western Development Museum, and YWCA Saskatoon.
Gladys Hall passed away on October 10, 2017, but her legacy of giving has already made an impact in Saskatoon.
Since 2001, the Gladys Hall Fund has granted over $99,000 to Saskatoon charitable work, providing the charities she selected with a sustained source of income that continues forever.
Thanks to this ongoing multi-year support through the Gladys Hall Fund, Saskatoon Interval House housed countless women and children who were forced to leave their homes fleeing family violence.
The fund allowed the YWCA to “provide advocacy, programs and services to positively impact the lives of women, their families, and the community,” wrote former director of housing Heather Pocock.
Austism Services of Saskatoon was able “to increase and enhance the level and range of services provided, to address the needs of children and adults with autism,” said the organization.
The Ronald McDonald House organization has continued to provide a home-like environment for families in both Saskatoon and Prince Albert, offering invaluable support while their children received medical care.
The Western Development Museum has provided many Saskatoon residents and visitors to the city with a sense of past, exactly as Gladys Hall wished. Her donations improved exhibits and provided opportunities for interaction.
And the CNIB has helped many Saskatchewan people living with vision loss continue to work, play, and enjoy the things that matter most, including services for the visually impaired, adaptive consumer products, and a large library. A woman who believed in the importance of quality of life and was a frequent visitor to the Saskatoon Public Library, Gladys would have been delighted.