Laurie S. Connon Fund

Laurie Connon

Laurie Connon has been on the receiving end of a stranger’s generosity and she simply wanted to return the favour.  To that end, Miss Connon established a fund to support promising young musicians.  Music, singing in particular, had been her lifelong passion.

Miss Connon recalled the generosity of others when hardship hit her family during the Depression and her father lost his business. When she was 10 or 11 and her family had no money, someone paid for her to attend a YWCA summer camp. The experience meant a lot to her and as a result she also contributed to the Foundation’s Spectator Summer Camp Fund.

Another benefactor stepped forward to encourage her singing talent. In lieu of payment for lessons, the teacher accepted a hedge for her garden from the family’s business. Still others’ mentoring efforts helped her achieve a teaching degree in singing.  Miss Connon’s Fund is now part of the ‘Note-Able’ Music Fund at Hamilton Community Foundation.  This fund supports programs that provide opportunities for exposure to musical training for children and youth.

The Conducive Fund

Conducive Fund

Jeff Howard and Sarah Murphy marked their marriage with the launch of the Conducive Fund.

While many brides-to-be are focused on wedding cakes and flowers, Sarah Murphy and her fiancé Jeff Howard looked beyond themselves, to the common good, as they planned their September 2008 wedding. They decided to offer guests the opportunity to give back to the community instead of giving wedding gifts to them.

“One of the things I appreciate most about Sarah is her philanthropic nature,” says Jeff. “So this really felt right.

”Family and friends responded enthusiastically – dozens of gifts were made to HCF honouring Sarah and Jeff’s marriage and forming the core of a fund that will help local children in perpetuity.

“We’re not 19 any more,” says Jeff, who runs a graphic design firm Evoke Solutions, “and we just weren’t that comfortable with the idea of receiving a whole lot of wedding gifts. We’re very fortunate, and we wanted to find a way to give back instead.”

The couple naturally turned to Hamilton Community Foundation, where Sarah, an investment advisor at CIBC Wood Gundy, is on the Board of Directors. They established a fund that will focus on outdoor activities for children and other opportunities identified by the Foundation. Sarah knows that HCF staff are in touch with community needs and can suggest grants that will have the impact she and Jeff intend. Their wedding guests were thrilled to contribute.

The outdoors is a passion for both Sarah and Jeff. “Our first date was snowshoeing,” says Sarah, “and Jeff proposed on a ski hill. So that gives you an idea of how important outdoor activities are to us.” Even their wedding was held outdoors at a summer camp; guests were able to spend the weekend enjoying both the outdoors and the camp experience first hand.


The couple aims to make opportunities like summer camp and other outdoor adventures available to less fortunate children through their fund, named “The Conducive Fund”  to suggest its ability to produce a favourable outcome. They have also directed a portion of their fund to HCF’s unrestricted fund, which gives the Foundation flexibility to meet changing community needs.

“We wanted to mark the occasion of our marriage, but we are also looking ahead with this fund,” Sarah explains. “In the future, when we have children they could get involved in the fund. And we plan to add to it, so 50 years from now the fund will still be there, meeting community needs.”

Excerpt from 2008-2009 Annual Report

Marjorie Hawkins Clark Fund

Marjorie Dell Clark

The challenges of mental illness were a central concern for Marjorie Clark and they are a continuing passion of her husband Hugh. “Ignorance about mental illness and the stigma surrounding it are still real problems,” says Hugh. The Clark family has supported various mental health organizations financially in Hamilton for many years, and both Hugh and Marge were committed volunteers with the Family Association for the Hamilton Program for Schizophrenia.

“Marge was a tremendous support to me and to my son Steve in dealing with schizophrenia,” says Hugh. “She would agree about the need for this fund.”

Established after Marge’s death in 2007, the Marjorie Hawkins Clark Fund will focus on community support for people with mental health issues. Initially, it will target two critical areas: employment and peer support. As he pondered the best way to direct the fund, Hugh sought help from Hamilton Community Foundation, with which he has had a long affiliation. The Foundation, in turn, reached out to experts in the mental health field. Together, they matched best practices with Hugh’s goals and refined the focus of the fund.

“The Foundation helped me get the best advice,” says Hugh. “Mental health is a complex issue. While there have been advances in treatment and medication, community support is still sorely lacking. Unemployment, isolation, affordable housing, public education – these are all areas that desperately need attention. This fund in Marge’s memory will tackle some of them. I’m confident it will make a difference.”

Marjorie Dell grew up in Hamilton’s North End, the youngest of eight children. Her father died when she was just four years old. The extended Dell family is a close one, and organizing annual family reunions was one of Marge’s delights. Marge herself lost her husband at a young age and raised two sons, Bob and Ted, on her own. She and Hugh married in 1988. Hugh has three children.

“When we got together, it was a second marriage for both of us,” says Hugh. “Marge was a wonderful person who had her feet on the ground. Her focus was family and community. She kept things simple. It’s those fond memories that sustain me now.”

Excerpt from 2007-2008 Annual Report

Douglas J. Clark Fund

The granddaughter of Adam Clark, founder of the long-established (1874) local construction company and daughter of William J. and Frances Elizabeth Hunter, Miss Douglas Clark lived most of her life at the corner of Queen and Aberdeen. She volunteered with mentally handicapped children and was active in the Big Sister Association. Being very musical, she was also involved with The Duet Club and the Hamilton Philharmonic.

Excerpt from 1989-1990 Annual Report

Clark Family Foundation Fund


Hugh and Alan Clark

The Clark brothers, Hugh and Alan, share a strong conviction that their personal good fortune is to be shared with the community in which their family business flourished. To that end, they formed Willahome, a Foundation established 21 years ago with proceeds from the sale of Adam Clark Company Limited – an industrial construction company originally established as a plumbing and heating firm by their great-grandfather in 1874.

Over the years, numerous organizations have received support from Willahome – the name represents the initials of their family members. The Foundation, which started with $100,000 in capital, has grown to a fund worth nearly $1 million.

As the fund and grant requests increased, the brothers found the administration of their Foundation increasingly time-consuming. They decided to turn its management over to the Hamilton Community Foundation. “For several reasons, it was natural to merge with the Community Foundation,” said Alan, explaining, “We trust the Foundation. Hugh has been on its Board, our friends have been involved with it, and we have an aunt who gave money in the past.” Hugh and Alan will continue their relationship with the community through the Hamilton Community Foundation by their advice on the grants made from the renamed Clark Family Fund. “Alan and I have like minds,” explains Hugh. “We share a concern for the social service field, young people, education and the arts. We have always leaned toward organizations or causes that have difficulty in raising funds.” Alan notes that the government can’t support all health and social programs. “The public must step up and take a swing at supporting them. Everyone has a role and responsibility in creating a strong community.”

Excerpt from 1999-2000 Annual Report

Chaney-Ensign Bursary Fund

NOTE: next application deadline is February 1, 2022. Apply online here

One of the Foundation’s largest funds, the Chaney-Ensign Bursary Fund provides educational bursaries to students who demonstrate serious financial need and who have completed their high school requirements in publicly-funded secondary schools located in the City of Hamilton.

Students must be in attendance at an approved college or university in Canada or, for specialized programs, in the United States. If warranted by continuing need and satisfactory progress, the award may be repeated in subsequent years. This bursary fund is generally intended to assist students enrolled in full-time undergraduate studies, although part-time or postgraduate studies may be considered.

This Fund is supported from the generous estate gifts of Genevieve A. Chaney (d. 1975) and Cordelia C. Ensign (d. 1971), twin sisters who had been teachers and residents in both New York State and Hamilton, Ontario.

The intent of this bursary fund is to support students, graduating from secondary schools in the City of Hamilton most likely to benefit from higher education either in the United States or Canada, but who otherwise would be unable to financially afford the same.

Excerpt from 2009-2010 Annual Report

Jane and Stewart Capell

Jane & Stewart Capell

Jane and Stewart Capell

Jane and Stewart Capell want to help someone live their dream. “We want to help someone pursue their passion – whether that passion is an environmental concern, fulfilling a void of humanity, or seeking knowledge and education. The focus is broad. We want to help someone achieve their greater purpose, whatever that may be,” Jane explains.

To accomplish their goal, the Capells make monthly donations to the “Dream Weaver Fund” which they established in 2001 at Hamilton Community Foundation. Jane is a financial planner and understands both the need for giving and the advantages of giving through the community foundation. “We all need to simplify our lives and the Foundation helps us do just that. I appreciate the monthly donations taken directly from my account and the single contribution receipt at tax time. You can have confidence that your gift is directed to your area of concern in the community and is having a positive impact. It’s a rewarding feeling. I challenge others to experience it.”

Excerpt from 2001-2002 Annual Report

Donald and Alice Cannon Fund

Alice Cannon and her late husband Donald began a custom of annual giving to the Community Fund and their children continue the family tradition.

Alice Cannon and her late husband Donald began a custom of annual giving to the Community Fund and their children continue the family tradition.

HCF’s Community Fund has the flexibility to support the community’s top priorities. That’s why donors like Alice Cannon have chosen to contribute to it for so many years.

“My husband and I made our first donation to the Community Fund when the children were young adults,” says Alice, who at 91 is one of HCF’s longest-standing contributors. “A friend recommended Hamilton Community Foundation and we’ve supported it ever since.” Over the years, those contributions have built up and the Donald and Alice Cannon Fund is now a named fund within the Community Fund.

The Community Fund makes it possible for anyone to have a lasting impact with a gift of any size. New donations are pooled with permanent gifts from previous years. HCF’s Board of Directors then uses the fund’s investment income to support strategic priorities across Hamilton – like poverty reduction, the environment, youth and citizen engagement, and neighbourhood revitalization – while leaving the bulk of the principal to generate future grants.

That combination of permanence and breadth appeals to contributor Janet Cannon, Alice and Donald’s daughter. “My brothers and I like the idea that the fund meets a broad range of community needs, from the arts to poverty, education and health, year after year. My father dedicated his life to many of those causes as a lawyer and as a community volunteer, so it feels like we’re continuing his legacy.”

“Thanks to the foresight and generosity of past and current donors, the Community Fund is a powerful tool,” says CEO Terry Cooke. “It allows the Foundation to be strategic on key challenges – today and in the future.”

Excerpt from 2011-2012 Annual Report

Dorothy and Frank Bliss Fund

Josephine Bliss

When Josephine Bliss approached the Foundation in 1989 to create a fund in memory of her parents, it was consistent with the way she lived her life – considerate, intelligent and meticulous.

“The whole family was committed to Hamilton. For them, there was no alternative to the city, ” recalled Geoffrey Mitchell, a friend and colleague from Miss Bliss’ days in research at the MacLean Hunter in Toronto.” Jo was close to her parents. When they were terminally ill, she moved back to Hamilton and commuted to Toronto at 5:30 each morning. She had a vivacious personality and a lot of friends wherever she went. She showed great courage in her own fatal illness and never complained, “Mr. Mitchell added. Although her parents hoped she would join the insurance agency they founded in 1944, Miss Bliss decided to attend university and pursue her own goals. After graduation, she began a career in research which first involved complex analysis of consumer magazines published by MacLean Hunter, then consumer products research at Nestle and readership studies for Chatelaine and Southam Business publications. Her talent for organization and thoroughness was evident in every assignment she took on,” Mr. Mitchell noted.

Josephine was a talented photographer, pianist, animal and bird lover as well as a volunteer with several organizations including the Foundation where she assisted with many site visits of grant applicants.

To commemorate the family’s devotion to the Hamilton community, Miss Bliss established the Dorothy and Frank Bliss Fund, leaving the residue of her estate to the Foundation.

This fund forms part of the Community Health Education and Research Fund.

Excerpt from 1995-1996 Annual Report

Art Gallery of Hamilton

Art Gallery of HamiltonNoting that HCF is “our local specialist in building and holding endowment funds,” The Art Gallery of Hamilton entrusted the management of its endowment fund to Hamilton Community Foundation in 2002. HCF is pleased to partner with one of Hamilton’s cultural treasures and an institution that is essential to the economy and revitalization of our City’s core.

As the Building a Legacy Endowment Fund grows, it will help to ensure the Gallery’s financial health in the years ahead. Ongoing operating funds – the resources that sustain all non-profit organizations – are often the most difficult to raise and an endowment fund is an important step toward financial sustainability. Hamilton Community Foundation now holds agency endowment funds for nine local organizations.

Louise Dompierre, President and CEO of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, says that “over the years, Hamilton Community Foundation has built a very strong reputation and a high level of credibility. We have confidence in their management of the Gallery’s fund. It’s a very beneficial partnership for us and for our supporters – the Gallery doesn’t have to manage the fund, which after all is not our core business, and donors can be assisted by Hamilton Community Foundation to make contributions that work well for them. It really is a win-win arrangement.”

Excerpt from 2002-2003 Annual Report