Dr. Francis G. Winspear (1903-1997)

Dr. Francis G. Winspear (1903-1997)
Photo by Con Boland

Francis Winspear was born in Birmingham, England, and immigrated to Canada with his family when he was eight years old, settling in a hamlet not far from Calgary, Alberta. He graduated from the University of Alberta as an accountant in the 1920s, and by the 1940s, had the biggest accounting firm in Edmonton. His generosity to his adopted home was established early on. He helped to found both the Edmonton Symphony Society and Edmonton Opera, and made contributions as well to the U of A's Faculty of Business.

The Winspear Foundation has donated millions to worthwhile community causes, and his six million dollar donation to the Edmonton Concert Hall Foundation was the largest single private donation ever made to a performing arts facility in Canada. The widowed Dr. Winspear met Harriet Snowball in 1960, and in 1981 they married. Harriet recalls a man who, once he had his mind set on something, could not be deterred.

It is more than the staggering six million dollars that merits Dr. Winspear's name on Edmonton's jewel of a concert hall. The thousands of lives he touched and enriched, in dozens of charities, causes and foundations he was a part of, form a testament to a man who truly accomplished what is so often dreamed of – to leave the community a better place for having been a part of it.

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