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Our History | Canada West Foundation

It started with an idea: Together, we’re better

The emergence of the Canada West Foundation traces the emergence of the modern West in Canada. The idea of a foundation devoted to conducting research on matters of concern to the West was suggested by the Hon. James A. Richardson in 1970 during the historic One Prairie Province? A Question for Canada Conference in Lethbridge, Alta.

Participants agreed that research on the West (including British Columbia and the North) should be led by a new organization. The Canada West Foundation was established under letters patent of Dec. 31, 1970, and the first Canada West Council was elected in June 1973.

The Canada West Foundation has become one of Canada’s premier research and public policy institutions. It pursues non-partisan, accessible research and convenes civic society to debate on public policy issues that will improve the prosperity and quality of life for westerners.

These efforts are rooted in the belief that a strong West makes for a strong Canada.

Four leaders with a shared vision
for western Canada

Their commitment to the West made the Foundation’s work possible.


G. Maxwell Bell



Arthur J.E. Child


Frederick C. Mannix



Hon. James A. Richardson

The leaders who started it all

G. Maxwell Bell
George Maxwell Bell (1912-1972) was an entrepreneur and devoted philanthropist who thrived on taking risks.

After graduating from McGill University with a degree in commerce in 1932, Bell worked a variety of jobs such as labourer and prospector in British Columbia, until he was able to secure a contract providing railway ties to the Canadian Pacific Railway. With the profits from this he made his first major investment, in a dormant Turner Valley oil company. Read more.

Arthur J.E. Child
Arthur J. E. Child was born in Surrey, England, on May 19, 1910. At the age of three, he emigrated with his family to Canada, residing in Gananoque, Ontario. He graduated from Gananoque High School at the top of his class, and enrolled at Queen’s University.

Mr. Child was the President and CEO of Burns Foods Ltd., which for decades was one of western Canada’s most prominent and largest employers. He was also chairman of the Foundation from its inception in 1973 until the early 1990s. His dedication to the goals of the Foundation and his steadfast efforts in promoting it played a pivotal role in creating the organization it is today.  Read more.

Frederick C. Mannix
Frederick C. Mannix is known as one of Canada’s great builders. Born Oct.21, 1913 in Edmonton, Alberta, he began working for his father’s contracting business at an early age, becoming a partner in 1935. When his father’s failing health led to the sale of the business in 1942, the younger Mannix maintained on ownership position in the company, which became a Canadian subsidiary of Morrison-Knudsen Construction Company of Boise, Idaho. Read more.

Hon. James A. Richardson
Hon. James Richardson, PC (born March 28, 1922 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, died May 17, 2004) was a Canadian Cabinet minister under Pierre Trudeau, and a Winnipeg businessman.

After attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Richardson enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He served as an anti-submarine pilot based in Iceland and Labrador during World War II. Following the war, Richardson joined the family owned grain company, James Richardson and Sons, and became Chief Executive Officer and chairman in 1966. Read more.


Founders’ Endowment Fund

The Founders’ Endowment Fund is a permanent fund created in 1996 and named to honour the four founding members of the Canada West Foundation: G. Maxwell Bell, Arthur J.E. Child, Frederick C. Mannix, and the Hon. James A. Richardson. The fund is based on generous donations from the families and estates of the four founders, and grown through donations from the Philanthropy Club (an innovative fundraising initiative from 2006-2008).

If you would like to become a supporter or donate to the Founder’s Endowment Fund, please contact the Foundation at: (403) 538-7354 or by email (*protected email*).



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