S2E7: Canada’s Charitable History

The famous Massey Foundation (established in 1896) was the first charitable trust of its kind in Canada. It is often referred to as the first charity in Canada, but it would be a mistake to think this is where charity in Canada started.

This week, host Nick Bridges is joined by Know History’s very own Sara Wilmshurst. With her unique background in fundraising management, Sara is the perfect person to guide us through the history of charity in Canada.

How did British common law influence our definition of charity?  What effect did World War I have on charities in Canadian culture? What led to our ability to write off charitable donation on our taxes? And, what in the world is The Federation Fundraising Movement?

For these answers and more, join Nick and Sara as they notice the history of charity in Canada.

About Our Guest

Sara Wilmshurst has worked at Know History since January 2018. She received an MA in History from the University of Guelph and a certificate in Fundraising Management from Humber College. When Sara isn’t doing historical research or volunteering as a fundraiser, she can often be found petting dogs, watching superhero movies, and drinking too much tea.


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Wilmshurst, Sara J. “[T]he dust-up which Dr. Bates appears intent on creating”:Changes in the Health League of Canada’s Support, Funding, and Status, 1944-1975,” Master’s thesis, University of Guelph, 2015.



Hosts: Nick Bridges and Sara Wilmshurst

Producers: Robin Mullins and Emily Cuggy

Research: Sara Wilmshurst

Audio Editing: Sara Wilmshurst

Web Content: Casandra Masse

Image Credit: People eating at a soup kitchen. 1931. Library and Archives Canada / PA-168131.