Our History

A Community Foundation is a collection of funds permanently endowed so that only the income earned is spent in any given year. The capital is retained in perpetuity to provide funding for community needs. In 1978, Keith Heming approached the two Councils (Town and Rural) to seek their approval for the establishment of a Community Foundation in Killarney to be modeled upon The Winnipeg Foundation. On November 5, 1979, The Killarney Foundation Inc. was incorporated pursuant to the laws of the Province of Manitoba and received charitable status from Revenue Canada.

Over the next five years, an extensive informational campaign was carried on by Keith Heming, principally by speaking to seniors groups to advise as to the benefits such an organization would bestow upon the community-at-large. Coupled with this effort was a determined program to ensure that grants made by the Foundation were seen to be, and, in fact were, of such benefit to the community that donors would be attracted to make the Foundation their charity of choice. At the end of 1984, The Killarney Foundation Inc. had an endowment fund of approximately $20,000.00. At that point, prominent citizens began to make arrangements (principally through their Wills) which, in the intervening years, has lead to an endowment fund of almost One Million ($1,000,000.00) Dollars at June 30, 1997 and in excess of $3,000,000.00 in January 2006.

One of the first large donations was received from the Estate of May Finlayson. She made her Will in the early 1980’s and passed away in 1985. In the interim, she had been the sole beneficiary of the Estate of her brother, the combined totals being approximately $167,000.00. Frank Collyer, a prominent local businessman, was diagnosed with a terminal illness that year and decided to endow a scholarship fund for Killarney Collegiate. The results of those acts of philanthropy soon attracted R. W. (Bob) Church and David Hendry who, during their lifetimes, became substantial donors. Wayne Freeman was a "young” farmer who passed away at the age of 57 years leaving an estate of almost One Million Dollars of which almost $350,000.00 became part of the General Fund of the Foundation. R. W. (Bob) Church died in 1999 leaving most of his Estate to an endowment fund for Tri-Lake Hospital in memory of himself and his late wife, Annie. A major gift of $70,000.00 to the Hospital in 2003 is a result of this generosity.

One of the most important factors in the growth of the Foundation in Killarney has been strategic grant-making. The Foundation (through Keith Heming who has acted as Secretary-Treasurer since inception) has been pro-active in determining community requirements, finding civic groups who could take on the sponsorship of such projects, and, with Board approval, moving the requirement into reality. A prime example of this initiative was the establishment of The Killarney & District Community Centre Inc. Through the financial efforts of the Foundation, Killarney obtained a large attractive facility which was in constant use by recreational, cultural and educational groups in Killarney and surrounding area. It was the home of the only summer-school program in southern Manitoba (except those located in the City of Winnipeg). A skateboard facility was added to the premises fulfilling an urgent community need by removing a large number of teenagers from Broadway Avenue sidewalks and providing them with "ownership” of their own facility where they could freely conduct their own social activities. The building, being a former school, was later discovered to have an asbestos problem. With the planning for a new recreational facility well underway, the Town Council made the decision to demolish the building. "The best laid plans ….”. The Killarney Foundation Board set aside 15% of the general revenues each year to help fund the new recreation facility. Another example was a partnership with The Kinsmen Club of Killarney that led to the establishment of a large, fully-serviced campground on the western edge of Killarney.

Since its inception, The Killarney Foundation Inc. has returned to the community, as of December 31, 2005, from undesignated funds account, almost Seven Hundred Thousand ($700,000.00) Dollars and, in addition, has granted almost Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand ($350,000.00) Dollars from designated funds. It has become, without question, the leading grant-maker in the area. Its activities as a facilitator has strengthened community bonds by bringing groups together to work for the common good of the area. Grants have also been made in some small communities in the surrounding area. These communities (populations under 500 persons) are too small to establish their own Community Foundations and The Killarney Foundation Inc. is taking the lead to show them the benefits of establishing community funds within The Killarney Foundation Inc. The interest from any such funds would then be directed to charitable activities in the area from which such funds were obtained. As of June 30, 1997, such a fund has been established for the community of Baldur, Manitoba (population of 300 persons) from the estate of a Baldur resident who passed away in March, 1997. Other donations have also been received increasing the Baldur Area Endowment Fund to over Eighty-eight Thousand ($88,000.00) Dollars by December 31, 2005.

We believe that the asset development has occurred principally due to strategic grant-making. Each grant is viewed not only from the benefit that will accrue to the community but also with a view to raising the profile of the Foundation in the community. The funds of The Killarney Foundation Inc. had been invested in government bonds (federal, provincial and municipal) to provide maximum income. Administrative expenses have been kept to a minimum to allow as much grant-making as possible. This was a deliberate strategy which was to be reviewed when the endowment funds reached One Million Dollars of undesignated funds. Upon attaining One Million Dollars of undesignated funds, and reviewing the investment strategy, the Foundation now also invests in a wide range of common shares, income trusts, and corporate bonds.

The result has been a large, visible grant-making program that receives maximum publicity through the local newspaper (Killarney Guide - published weekly). All of the administration, investment management, publicity and general operations of the Foundation have been conducted by Keith Heming. For his volunteer efforts with The Killarney Foundation Inc., and his efforts to establish Community Foundations throughout Manitoba (as well as serving on the Board of Directors of Community Foundations of Canada), Keith Heming was awarded the Order of Canada in October 1999 and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2003.

The Killarney Foundation Inc. is the second largest Community Foundation in Manitoba and is, quite possibly, the largest Community Foundation in Canada, on a per-capita basis.