In the mid-seventies, a small group of Saint John community and business leaders met at the YMCA to consider the value of a community foundation. Graeme Somerville, one of the participants, would later establish a fund with the foundation. From that gathering, three lawyers and a banker pursued the initiative. The group liked the concept of a locally governed, independent, permanent trustee of endowment funds that could generate earnings that stayed right here in Greater Saint John, making grants to area charities. 

Adrian Gilbert, Q.C., Wallace D. Macaulay, Q.C., (now Justice) Wallace S. Turnbull, Q.C., and Henry Caldwell, then General Manager of the Bank of Nova Scotia – agreed to pursue the establishment of a foundation for our community. They guided an Act, modeled on other Canadian Community Foundations, through the legislative process, to become law in 1976, establishing the second community foundation in the Province. Originally called The Saint John Foundation, the name was changed in 2000 to better reflect the original goals.

The initial 1976 meeting of the Community Foundation was chaired by Mayor Edis Flewelling. Well-known businessman, community supporter and philanthropist Philip W. Oland was selected Chair, a position he retained until he was named Honorary Chair in 1995.

In addition to the city’s Mayor, the first directors consisted of representatives of the Saint John Law Society, Wallace D. Macaulay, Q.C., and Wallace S. Turnbull, Q.C.; the Saint John Medical Society, Dr. Henry J. Flood; the Saint John Board of Trade, James M. Crosby; and Walter E. Harris, nominee of the Saint John District Labour Council, and long-serving vice-chairman, having retired in 1999.

Mr. John F. McCrossin, C.A. was appointed treasurer of The Foundation in 1976. He served with commitment and loyalty for 21 years.

A brief history of the movement

To ensure the long-term success of his community, banker and lawyer Frederick Goff founded the first community foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, in 1914.

His vision was to pool the charitable resources of Cleveland’s philanthropists, living and dead, into a single, great, and permanent endowment for the betterment of the city. Community leaders would then forever distribute the interest that the Foundation’s resources would accrue to fund “such charitable purposes as will best make for the mental, moral, and physical improvement of the inhabitants of Cleveland.”

The Winnipeg Foundation was Canada’s first community foundation, established in 1921. Today, there are more than 191 community foundations across Canada and nearly 1900 around the world.The Greater Saint John Community Foundation is a proud partner of Community Foundations of Canada, the national network organization for the 191 community foundations across Canada. Learn more about Community Foundations of Canada.