Welcome to the Conn Smythe Foundation website and newsletter. Our goal is to better inform you of the charities, events, and projects we are currently involved in. Furthermore, we hope to provide you with a deeper understanding of the process which helps us determine the charitable organizations we support, to better serve the goals of the CSF. Our website provides an opportunity for those seeking funding assistance to contact us with their information and proposal.
The name Conn Smythe is synonymous with hockey and more specifically, the builder and owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, what is not as well known is that Conn Smythe came from humble beginnings. Born on February 1, 1895, he did not have a privileged upbringing. In the late 1890s, his family had fallen on to financially hard times. From the time he was six until ten years old, he lived with his father in a farmhouse, owned by a family friend, in Scarborough Village, near Markham and
Eglington Road today. The house had no power, water, or indoor plumbing, with its only source of heat coming from a woodstove in the kitchen. Their luck improved when his father was hired by the Toronto World newspaper in 1905. This allowed them to move back into the city, albeit into a single room in a building where St. Michael’s hospital stands today. Conn’s father Albert insisted on a good education for his son. He was able to scrap together the entrance fee for private school for his son, the first being St. Alban’s Cathedral School, then later at Upper Canada College. Conn would sometimes deliver the entrance fee, a week’s worth at a time, stacking the coins on the registrar’s desk. It during this time that young Conn discovered a love for sports. Not particularly talented, nor blessed with exceptional physical attributes, he made up for it with determination, effort, and hard work. Eventually as a senior high school student at Jarvis Collegiate, he had joined the football, rugby, basketball teams, and was captain of the hockey team. Drawn to competition, sportsmanship, and the camaraderie of being part of a team, he noticed that his teammates would listen to him when it came time to strategize before and during the games. This was something new for Conn. The first time he had his picture in the newspaper was with his unbeaten hockey team at Upper Canada College. “I stared a lot at the line that read: C. Smythe, Captain. That gave me a hold on something. I was poor, but on the ice, what I said the others did. I liked that.”
Through his participation in team-oriented athletics early in his life, Conn Smythe found passion, courage, tenacity and leadership abilities within himself, as well as a burning desire to succeed. He would display all of these attributes in his future endeavours throughout the course of his remarkable life.
In this spirit, the CSF has been concentrating its focus primarily on supporting those charities providing medical arts, sports and educational programs for women and children. In December 2014, the CSF donated funds for the purchase of a new water trampoline at Camp Towhee, in Haliburton Ontario. Camp Towhee, affiliated with the Child Development Institute in Toronto, is a residential camp program for kids, aged 10-17, with learning disabilities and mental health issues (LDMH). This past summer, 97 campers had the opportunity to enjoy the trampoline, as it became the
In December 2014, the CSF donated funds for the purchase of a new water trampoline at Camp Towhee, in Haliburton Ontario. Camp Towhee, affiliated with the Child Development Institute in Toronto, is a residential camp program for kids, aged 10-17, with learning disabilities and mental health issues (LDMH). This past summer, 97 campers had the opportunity to enjoy the trampoline, as it became the highlight of their Waterfront program.
In 2015, the CSF has provided funding to Emily’s House, Jessie’s Centre, the Children’s Book Bank, Kids Up Front, the Regent Park School of Music, and the Red Door Shelter.
Emily’s House is a 10-bed Children’s Hospice, the first in Toronto. Emily’s House works closely with the Hospital for Sick Children, providing care through a medical support team and trained volunteers. Our donations support Emily’s House Recreation, Arts and Play Therapy programs. They are forming a partnership with the Kids Up Front organization. Kids Up Front provides access to arts, culture, sport and recreation to children, through the distribution of unused tickets and the creation of special events, to inspire and educate. Our donation to Kids Up Front was directed towards their growing relationship with Emily’s House, to provide relief to families. “They come back with stories, laughter, and joy…” Outings have included hockey games, Cavalia, Luminato, Toronto Fringe Festival, and the Shrine Circus.
The Children’s Book Bank, which opened in 2008 in Regent Park, offers free books and literacy support for children in high priority neighborhoods. It provides a safe and welcoming space to enjoy books for up to 200 children per day. The CBB is working together with Jessie’s Centre to encourage teenage mothers to visit the Book Bank. Jessie’s Centre offers programs and support for pregnant teens and teen mothers aged 12-20. It helps over 1100 women and children each year providing counselling, pre-natal programs and physician support, as well as having a child-care facility, overnight care, food, clothing and supplies. Recent CSF donations to Jessie’s Centre have been directed to its “A Dressing Success” initiative, which is a training program for participants to gain work experience managing and running a small shop of donated new and used clothing, toys and books.
The Regent Park School of Music offers a broad range of lessons for numerous musical instruments, as well as music history and theory. The school targets youth, aged 3 to 18, from high priority neighborhoods. Our donation allowed 30 children a music education in 2015, helping them to build their confidence and self-esteem. The children were given the opportunity to perform in over 50 public events, which showcased their talent and musical achievements.
Red Door Shelter provides accommodation for more than 50 children with their parents each night. It has offered support services for homeless families and abused women since 1982. They will be transitioning into a brand new 94 bed shelter, which is scheduled for completion in 2018. Each family will have their own private bedroom and washroom. Our donation is going toward furnishing the new building.
Since 1980, the CSF has supported numerous charitable organizations throughout the GTA and Ontario, with funding totalling well over $10 million. We are proud to be able to continue this legacy and plan to do so for many years to come. Please watch for our summer newsletter in 2016, as we highlight the exciting individuals, organizations, and projects the CSF supports.
Season’s greetings to you and your loved ones over this holiday season from the members of the Conn Smythe Foundation.