The 1930s were a turning point in The Foundation’s growth, community support and leadership.
When Elizabeth Alloway passed away in 1926, she left her entire estate – $800,000 – to The Winnipeg Foundation, the community foundation her husband, William Forbes Alloway, had established five years earlier. At the time, Elizabeth Alloway’s gift (which would be equivalent to more than $11 million today) was the largest ever made to a Manitoba charity and made headlines across the country. Her estate gift also made her The Foundations’ first Legacy Circle member. Learn more about the Legacy Circle – Celebrating gifts made through a Will or estate.
Following the passing of William Alloway in 1930, the residue of both the Alloways’ estates was contributed to The Foundation, bringing their total gifts to more than $2.2 million (equivalent to nearly $40 million today). The Alloway assets also included land southwest of the city limits. Funds were raised by the sale of this land, which was subdivided for the development of the municipalities of Tuxedo and Charleswood.9 Some assets, however, declined in value. Alloway had directed that six shares of the Manitoba Free Press be sold for $2,000, but when buyers were unwilling to pay, they were unloaded for just $225 each to Free Press President and General Manager E. H. Macklin. Macklin then made an anonymous gift of $10,650 (the balance on Alloway’s assessment of the shares) to The Foundation to establish the Good Will Fund, which continues to support the community to this day.
Careful management of the Alloway estate by executors – all of whom were connected in some way with The Foundation – combined with gifts from others, resulted in a large increase to The Foundation’s granting ability. While it had granted about $6,000 annually during the 1920s, this amount increased to $62,000 through the 1930s.
To handle the increasing day-to-day operations of The Foundation, Peter Lowe, an employee of the Alloway and Champion Bank who had voluntarily handled the increasing volume of work, became The Foundation’s first paid employee.10 In 1930, he was hired as Secretary and earned $625 a month. Read more about Lowe – “Peter Below”. The Foundation also acquired dedicated office space in the McArthur Building on Main Street.
In the 1930s, with increasing resources and a dedicated staff, The Foundation became more involved in spearheading and supporting innovative approaches to social justice.
For example, working with the YMCA and other service clubs, The Foundation helped to increase the number of community clubs in the city from seven to 30, with the goal of discouraging “youth delinquency.” This special project, under the direction of Peter Lowe and with the support of The Foundation, completed its first year in 1931. As the Great Depression impacted family stability, The Foundation’s support for youth programming continued to increase, remaining the single largest allocation of funding until the 1950s.
Following the publication of the Whitton Report on Social Welfare in 1934, which called for sweeping changes to the child welfare system, The Foundation participated in the community committee to review the recommendations.
Through the 1930s, The Foundation also started to tackle challenging questions such as what should be defined as charitable, to accept new gift and fund types, and to appeal to new donors.
For example, in 1937 Moses Finkelstein, proprietor of the North West Hide and Fur Company of Winnipeg, gave a $1,000 life insurance policy to The Foundation. This was the first insurance policy The Foundation had received and was also noted as the first gift it had received from someone of Jewish heritage.
In 1939, the Board received a letter from Dr. Neil John MacLean asking that assistance be given to the founding of a Medical Research Laboratory in connection with the Medical Department of the University of Manitoba. Much thought was put into deciding whether research centres and universities are charitable organizations; the decision at the time was no, primarily because students pay to go to university, however it was decided that each grant in this area should be independently examined. Today, we know the original decision has been reversed.