On June 28th 2014, we invited Hamiltonians to enjoy their city.
To celebrate our 60th anniversary, we opened the doors to over 40 recreation, conservation and cultural centres across Hamilton – a great way to celebrate our history and our future together.
Get a taste of the day in this short video .
Generously supported by
In 1954 we invested in Hamilton
The seeds of today’s Hamilton Community Foundation were sown in 1954 by a small group of people who created it based on a model they had seen in Winnipeg – Canada’s first community foundation. They saw it as a new way to give back to the city they loved.
One of the founding board members in 1954 was James V. Young, whose leadership launched three generations of support for Hamilton through HCF. James’ son Bill and his wife Joyce made a landmark gift to HCF in 2000. One of the largest charitable donations in Canada at the time, it transformed the Foundation’s granting, leadership and ability to meet Hamilton’s greatest needs.
Today, James’ grandson Bill Young Jr. continues to encourage and support the Foundation in finding new ways to use its assets in service to our community, most notably through impact investing and other innovative social finance initiatives.
The Young legacy is just one example of the commitment that generations of many Hamilton families feel to their community and its future. Hamilton may change over the decades, but Hamiltonians remain steadfast in caring about their city and each other.
1964 to 1973
A Hamilton landmark leaves its legacy
1964 to 1973 – Robinson’s department store was a landmark for decades in Hamilton and many people fondly remember shopping there in the 1960s and 70s.
The stores are gone now, but the legacy of the founding family lives on at Hamilton Community Foundation.
When Kathleen Robinson McBride, the daughter of the department store’s founders, passed away she left her estate to HCF’s Community Fund. Her generous bequest was the largest unrestricted gift the Foundation had ever received. To this day, it fulfills her intentions of addressing the community’s highest needs and priorities.
Kathleen and her husband Robert McBride also had a daughter, Peggy, who created a private foundation in 1966. She later transferred her foundation to HCF and in honour of her long-time lawyer, Doug McCallum, who had devoted much time and energy to her foundation, it was renamed the McCallum, McBride Fund. Its annual grants for environmental issues and abused women and children touch hundreds of lives in Hamilton every year.
1974 to 1983
The first fund is still powerful
1974 to 1983 – The first fund established outside of the Community Fund, was the Chaney-Ensign Bursary Fund in 1976.
Genevieve Chaney and Cordelia Ensign were twin sisters, both teachers, and their intent was to help Hamilton young people who were in serious financial need to access higher learning.
The impact of this fund is hard to overestimate: close to 700 local students have received support over the years, without which they might never have progressed to post-secondary education. They include scientists, lawyers, teachers, business leaders, and countless others who continue to have an influence in Hamilton today.
Hamilton lawyer Sandra Stephenson and her three sisters all received Chaney-Ensign bursaries after their father suffered a stroke and the family’s sole source of income fell dramatically. Sandra, a past HCF chair, was recently awarded the prestigious Law Society Medal recognizing those who have “advanced the core principles of access to justice and equality through their unique contributions to their communities.”
Almost 40 years since its creation, the Chaney-Ensign Bursary Fund continues to support the educational aspirations of young Hamiltonians – an outstanding example of the power of the community foundation model.
1974 to 1983
1984 to 1993
The Hamilton Spectator Summer Camp Fund
1984 to 1993 – One of the city’s best-known charitable endeavours, The Hamilton Spectator Summer Camp Fund, came under the auspices of the Foundation in 1984.
While the camp fund dates back to 1898, “The Spec” joined forces with the Foundation in the 1980s to do what each could do best: the Foundation to use its financial and granting expertise to administer the fund; the newspaper to use its community reach to raise awareness and educate citizens about the benefits of camp.
Since that time, thousands of Hamilton children have had the opportunity to experience the joy of summer camp thanks to this fund, and thousands of Hamiltonians have experienced the pleasure of knowing their contribution makes it possible.
The Spectator Summer Camp Fund, established so many years ago, has had and continues to have a huge influence on child development in this community.
1994 to 2003
A Focus on Neighbourhoods
1994 to 2003 – For HCF, this was the decade that launched strategic philanthropy, as we moved toward proactive, planned, focused use of our burgeoning resources. The generous Young family gift prompted us to reach out in a broad community consultation and best practices review to determine the most useful way to play the community foundation’s unique position.
The findings clearly demonstrated that neighbourhoods were the key to developing Hamilton’s strengths and vitality. We launched the Growing Roots…Strengthening Neighbourhoods initiative in 2002 and have proven the power of small grants and leadership development to help the city’s most challenged neighbourhoods identify and build on their assets.
Working side-by-side with residents—the people who best know a neighbourhood and its needs—this approach uncovered safer, beautified, welcoming communities and nurtured local leaders.
The lessons we learned in the process informed our direction in the coming decade.
1994 to 2003
2004 to today
Turning Knowledge into Strategic Action
2004 to today – It was in this decade that all the Foundation’s research and experience pointed to one pervasive barrier to Hamilton’s vitality: poverty. HCF’s board decided to tackle this complex, long-term problem head-on, focusing the bulk of its discretionary granting on this single issue. It was a bold approach, unheard of in the community foundation world at the time.
Since that time, the Foundation has invested some $10 million into reducing and preventing poverty through strategic grantmaking and community leadership. We established the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction to address policy- level changes while stressing the pivotal role of neighbourhoods in strengthening the city—an approach since adopted by the City of Hamilton.
As we look back and look ahead on this 60th Anniversary, we remain committed to addressing Hamilton’s toughest challenges, ever mindful that the gifts entrusted to us over six decades are a powerful force for good.
Based on research, community knowledge, best practices in philanthropy—and Hamiltonians’ deep love for their city—we will continue to steer a course that puts those resources to work for Hamilton’s vitality.