via – Cottage Country Now
Rotary Bursary Endowment Fund chair Ken Little and secretary Brian Ferguson display the donation the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst received from the Christina Mary Hendrie Trust in Scotland.
Photo by Allyson Snelling
The Rotary Club of Gravenhurst has received a substantial donation to its bursary endowment fund from halfway around the world.
The club is the proud recipient of 10,700 pounds sterling or approximately $17,000 Canadian from the Christina Mary Hendrie Trust.
Perhaps just as intriguing as how this Scottish trust came to be is the story of how its contribution ended up in Muskoka.
In the fall of 2009, CBC Radio reported on a Scottish trust whose mandate is to distribute the interest to causes benefiting children and the elderly in Scotland and northern Ontario.
The local Rotary Club had recently established the Rotary Bursary Endowment Fund to provide opportunity and hope for post-secondary students from lower income families.
The fund’s chair, Ken Little, listened with interest to the CBC program. The timing could not have been better, he said.
After researching the criteria of the Scottish trust, the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst made an application stressing the club’s attempt to change the expectations of families in Gravenhurst for their children’s future.
“In an area so dependent on the cottage industry, where work is often seasonal and supported by unemployment insurance during the winter, the club wants families and children to know there is financial help locally for those wanting to further their education,” Little explained in his application. “It is easy to be discouraged if there is no expectation of you, no apparent opportunity and your perception of the future does not offer hope.”
The Scottish trust was about to offer encouragement.
Dick Augustine, treasurer for the Rotary Club, recently received a nondescript envelope in Rotary’s mailbox.
After opening it, he drove to Little’s office to share the news. The envelope contained a polite note asking for confirmation of its receipt and a cheque for 10,700 pounds sterling, drawn on the Royal Bank of Scotland.
“How simple! How Scottish!” said Little. “A simple note and the equivalent of $17,000 Canadian from the Christina Mary Hendrie Trust.”
The trust was created in 1972 from the estate of Christina Mary Hendrie, the sister of Murray Hendrie.
According to the trust’s website, in 1904, somewhere in western Canada, Murray Hendrie walked into a bar and asked the barman to give him a bottle of whisky in exchange for a piece of paper he had in his pocket.
The paper was, in fact, the title deed to land in northern Ontario, received from the Canadian government on Murray’s return from South Africa where he had fought in the Boer War with the Allied Army.
The barman refused the offer, declaring the land to be worthless, mosquito ridden and desolate.
Fifty years after Murray’s death in 1914, prospectors found large deposits of zinc, copper and silver on the neglected land. Eventually the land was sold and a share of the proceeds was passed to the estate of his sister, Christina Mary.
Christina Mary died in 1950, noting in her will that the residue of her estate was to be left to charity.
The trust was created in 1972 and funds are distributed in accordance with what was understood to have been the wishes of Christina Mary, to the benefit of Scottish and Canadian charities, specializing mainly in the young and the aged.
Most of the trustees are family members from both sides of the Atlantic.
“To have the trustees of the Christina Mary Hendrie Trust support Rotary’s endeavour in Canada is a tremendous vote of confidence, and provides a sense of substance and credibility for those individuals locally who have thought about donating to this fund,” said Little.
He hopes area cottagers will consider making a donation to help change the futures of local students, some of whom have had academic averages as high as 85 per cent, but could not afford to go to university.
“We hope that the support of a lady from Scotland will encourage others locally to help us,” said Little.