The Toronto Foundation was the inspiration of Fraser Deacon, a committed Torontonian who travelled throughout the United States for business and was impressed by the impact of local community foundations.
Deacon thought a similar idea could work in Toronto and so in the late 1950s, he set about trying to build the support to get it started. But, as his wife Frances Deacon recalls, "the timing wasn't right."
Over the next three decades, Fraser Deacon held onto his dream. He travelled to Winnipeg and Vancouver, where community foundations were flourishing, and he further refined his approach.
It was clear that Deacon had the vision and the determination to make it work.
Deacon eventually learned of several private family foundations in Toronto that were having trouble engaging the next generation to take the reigns of their foundation. He introduced the community foundation model to them, and they decided to fold their operations into the new Toronto Foundation. And with a core of like-minded partners and friends (Gage Love, John Hodgson, Gordon Purvis, Senator Richard Stanbury, Alan Grossman, and Lawrence Greenwood), Fraser Deacon was finally able to see his dream take shape in 1981.
Sadly, Deacon died in 1988. Mrs. Deacon remembers saying to her husband 6 months before his death, that she was saddened he would never get to see the Foundation mature, to which he replied that he didn't need to see it to know what it would become. All he needed was to see the start of the Foundation.
Fraser Deacon would be smiling now, knowing that annual grants have gone from just over $250,000 in the year he passed away to over $9 million today, distributed to over 450 high-impact community organizations.
Fraser Deacon (1981 to 1986)
Gage Love (1986 to 1990)
The Rt. Honorable John N. Turner, PC, QC (1990 to 1993)
Timothy Unwin (1993 to 1997)
Steve Hudson (1997 to 2002)
Martin Connell (2002 to 2011)
John B. MacIntyre (2011 to 2014)
John Barford (2014-Present)
Our President & CEOs
Marjorie J. Sharpe (1985 to 1996)
Carol Oliver (1996 to 2003)
Anne Swarbrick (2003 to 2007)
Rahul K. Bhardwaj (2007 to present)