Vancouver Foundation

Fall 2013

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Faces of Philanthropy Old Money, N A seven-year-old's birthday present in 1938 is one gift that keeps on giving BY PAUL HERATY At 82, Sheila Ross moves a bit more slowly now. But her wit, her sense of humour and her memory show no signs of slowing down. Some things she remembers as clearly as if they happened just yesterday. For instance, her seventh birthday – Ross remembers she wanted a bicycle. But her father had other ideas. F.R. Graham was an important financier and industrialist in pre- and post-war BC, and the owner of Union Steamships. In the days before BC Ferries, his boats were one of the few links to the outside world for countless island and coastal communities. He was also the father of 13 children, of whom Sheila was the 10th. Graham believed one was never too young to learn about business and to learn about giving back to the community. So for her seventh birthday, Ross received not a shiny new two-wheeler, but something "much better" – she got shares in Canadian Pacific Railway. Graham showed considerable vision, if not sensitivity, in his choice of birthday gift. Youthful disappointment aside, those shares organization they called Vancouver Foundation. have appreciated considerably since 1938, and Sheila has used them That original collective donation of $101,000 grew over time. for a variety of charitable donations. Now, 70 years later, Vancouver Foundation is Canada's largest In fact, she now uses shares and securities for all her donations. community foundation, with assets of $814 million. Donors like The Canada Revenue Agency provides an extra incentive to those Sheila Ross are continuing that long family tradition of giving back who donate shares. By taking advantage of this, to the community, honouring the vision of Alice Ross has realized significant tax savings over other MacKay and F.R. Graham. methods, such as writing a cheque. This strategy has "I think the Foundation is great. They look at the enabled the family to give even more over the years. community and they see what the needs are," says Ross has been a donor with Vancouver Ross. "I'm impressed by the Neighbourhood Small Foundation only since 2009, but the family links Grants program." go back much further. Her sister Anne started her Ross is an active woman. Four children and 12 own fund with Vancouver Foundation in 1996, grandchildren keep her and husband Bob busy. now administered by Anne's children. Another sister, She plays bridge, golfs three times a week in the Jane, started her fund with the Foundation in 1983. summer and does Pilates twice a week. She gives to And their father, F.R. Graham, was one of the literally dozens of charities – usually anonymously "founding fathers" of the Foundation – 10 local – under the cloak of a cleverly titled fund at business men who, in 1943, were so inspired by Vancouver Foundation that doesn't identify her. And F.R. Graham, Sheila she is surprisingly high-tech in her philanthropy, the example of one Alice Mackay (MacKay left Ross's father, helped start tracking her donations using the Foundation's $1,000 in her will to help women in poverty) that Vancouver Foundation My Philanthropy website. they each donated $10,000, to be overseen by a new in 1943. page 18 I Vancouver Foundation l Fall 2013 p18-19 Sheila Ross.indd 18 Photos: Paul Heraty, with archival photos courtesy of the Ross family 13-10-11 1:33 PM

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