The History of the Campbell River Community Foundation

In 1990, Mayor Robert Ostler and Council were invited to a meeting in Ottawa to learn about community foundations in Canada.

The meeting was hosted by the Ottawa Community Foundation and its visionary Executive Director, Mr. Al Gamble. The gathering was funded co-operatively by the Vancouver Foundation, Winnipeg Foundation and the Toronto Community Foundation.

Mayor Ostler and Council were very intrigued with the concept. Councillor Mary Ashley went to Ottawa as a guest of the Vancouver Foundation to learn more about the foundation movement. She returned to express her enthusiasm for the movement, and to report on the strong national support for new foundations. Council agreed to set aside $5000 in seed funding for a new Campbell River Community Foundation.

In 1992 Councillor Ashley was again invited to help initiate a national project in support in community foundations, held in Winnipeg (the oldest Community Foundation in Canada).Representatives from one end of the country to the other were present to sign the new entity into reality (Community Foundations of Canada). Mary was also honoured to be appointed to the founding Board of Directors as a representative of new and emerging community foundations.

Meanwhile an initial group of community leaders was formed to begin the task of building our own foundation. Mayor Bob Ostler, Mrs. Irene Ross, Judge Tony Sarich, Dr. Bob Gordon, Councillor Mary Ashley and Mr. Bill Halstead participated in the early development which led to the formation of the Community Foundation as a non-profit society. The Society then applied for and obtained charitable status so that tax receipts could be issued to donors who helped to build the permanent fund.

One of the first funds to be established was a legacy from the Western Premiers’ Conference held in Campbell River in 1994. The interest from this legacy is devoted each year to the needs of children and youth in the community.

More recently the Board has grown in numbers and activity as the Foundation becomes a stronger presence within the Campbell River area.

Two basic types of funding are established…one in which donors allow the Grants Committee of the Foundation to decide on grants based on a variety of needs, and another type of fund which is set aside specifically for community non-profit groups such as the Museum, the Hospital Foundation, and Trinity Presbyterian Church, for example.

Although donors contribute to the endowment year-round, the Foundation generally sponsors an annual Gala in October as a fundraiser to enhance the work of the Foundation.  This event is generously sponsored by the business community and well supported by community leaders.  In 2020, because of the pandemic, the Events committee had to shift gears. They created an interactive, virtual Christmas celebration called Hug in a Box, designed to bring the sounds, smells, and tastes into peoples’ homes, safely.  This “gift to Campbell River” was very well received and helped to shine hope and cheer during the difficult time. 


At present the Campbell River Community Foundation is investing its permanent endowment with the Vancouver Foundation which is the largest Foundation in Canada. The size of the Vancouver Foundation’s endowment enables it to help smaller Foundations by increasing the amount of interest earned on the permanent fund through sound investing, so that our Foundation can disperse more grants each year in our own community.

As the Community Foundation continues to build for the future, its impact in Campbell River will enable it to create positive growth through the many non-profit groups who are so passionate about the well-being of the whole community.

  • Sir Winston Churchill

    We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

    - Sir Winston Churchill
  • Kerry & Barry Watchorn

    We have chosen to invest in the Campbell River Community Foundation because it is a way of giving back to the community and a continuing future legacy in which the funds are well managed and not heavy in administration fees. Local organizations in need are well served by this growing Foundation.

    - Kerry & Barry Watchorn