A Life of Profound and Meaningful Generosity

Health, Wellness & Recreation

A woman with white hair, red glasses and a red scarf stands beside a rendering of the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden.

Shirley Richardson was an incredible citizen and generous Winnipegger. She passed away peacefully on March 11, 2023. 

Shirley dreamt that Winnipeg could have a butterfly garden for all to enjoy. As a first step in accomplishing this vision, her family provided funds for a temporary butterfly garden within the Assiniboine Park Zoo. This temporary exhibit was so successful that a permanent butterfly garden was incorporated into the design of the newly opened park attraction, The Leaf; The Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden carries her name in recognition of her vision and her family’s support. 

In 2016, Shirley made a founding gift of $400,000 to the ParkShare Endowment Fund, with the goal that as many Winnipeggers as possible be able to access the park and its programming, including the Butterfly Garden. It was important to her that the attraction bearing her name be accessible to all, without barriers. Shirley’s son, Jim Richardson, says, “She was passionate about inclusivity and providing equal access to opportunities and experiences for everyone.” 

The Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s goals for the ParkShare Endowment fund are to provide funding for students with limited access to its diverse, curriculum-linked educational programs, to help newcomers connect with their community and nature through park programs, and to share park experiences with child and senior groups through community outreach. 

In 2018, Shirley said, “As long-time users and supporters of Assiniboine Park, it brings our family great pleasure to be able to ensure that the Park and Zoo remain accessible to the community for many years to come. We have strongly believed in the importance of connecting with nature and the outdoors, and this important initiative will help continue to allow people of all ages to do just that.” 

In addition to her work with The Assiniboine Park Conservancy, Shirley was a devoted arts champion, supporting Manitoba’s visual and performing groups as a season ticket subscriber, and advancing their profile by serving on committees. She was a generous supporter of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Winnipeg Symphony, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Shirley also supported local Craft Guilds, donating high quality material and thread to Manitoba quilters for their beautiful handstitched quilts. In later years, she became a lead sponsor of the new Winnipeg C2 Centre for Crafts. 

The breadth and depth of Shirley’s volunteerism, philanthropy, and generosity led her to be honoured as a recipient of the Order of Manitoba in 2022. 

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