Montfort Hospital Foundation's history

The need for a Foundation became apparent when the directors of Hôpital Montfort decided to undertake a major renovation and expansion project in the mid-1980s in order to meet a growing demand from the community served by the hospital. Spread over four floors, an additional 100,000 square feet were added to make way for a large emergency room, a new, 30-bed nursing unit and outpatient clinics. This section became known as the “South Wing” up until the construction of the New Montfort.

The approximate cost of the project was $25 million: the Ontario Ministry of Health (today the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) funded two-thirds of the cost, contributing almost $17 million; The City of Ottawa agreed to contribute $5 million, and Hôpital Montfort was responsible for about $3 million. 

To meet this challenge, management decided to establish a non-profit, charitable organisation. As a result, the Montfort Hospital Foundation was created in March 1986 to receive, maintain and administer a fund or funds and to use all or part thereof, along with any return, to develop, expand and promote Hôpital Montfort’s objectives in the fields of health, research and social well-being. (In addition to asking individuals, community organisations, corporations, charitable foundations and religious groups for donations, the Foundation organised various activities to support the services and care that the Hospital was delivering to the community. These activities included the annual golf tournament, the weekly bingo at the Friends bingo Hall and the biannual benefit Gala. For example, the 2009 Gala in honour of Gérald R. Savoie was an outstanding success and raised over $80,000! 

The Foundation manages the revenues from parking-related commercial activities and receives a share of the proceeds from television rentals and automated bank machines. Planned giving programs, bequests, memorial donations and annual and monthly donations also generate funds.

The Montfort Angels program, Newborn Club and the direct marketing campaign raised substantial funds while acquiring new donors.

The Foundation is an independent entity administered by its own Board of Trustees, chaired successively by Marcel Lalande (1986-1991), Roger E. Légaré (1991-1992), Michel Coulombe (1992-1994), Gisèle Lalonde (1994-1995), Pierre Racicot (1995-1997), Clément Cadieux (1997-1998), Stéphane Trottier (1998-2001), Paul Carrière (2001-2004), Denis Laframboise (2004-2007) and Madeleine Joanisse (2007- to the present).

Between 1986 and 2013, four people have served as the Foundation’s Executive Director: Gisèle Richer (1988-1994), Luc Girard (1995-1997), Jacques Blouin (1997-2004) and Christine Sigouin, President and Chief Executive Office since 2004.

The Major Fundraising Campaigns

“Sincerely Yours”  (1989-1994)

The Foundation launched its first public fundraising campaign during a televised Wintario program. The five-year campaign aimed to raise $3.5 million for the hospital expansion project.

Agathe Bélisle (President of the Hospital’s Auxiliary Association at the time) co-chaired the campaign with Marcel Lalande (Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees at the time) and later with Raymond Gélinas (then Regional Director of the National Bank of Canada). The campaign theme, “Sincerely Yours,” was purposely chosen to strengthen the hospital’s ties within the community and vice versa.

The Auxiliaries Association kicked off the campaign with a promise to donate $500,000 in five years. Through the generosity of the Montfort family (members of the Foundation’s board of Trustees and the hospital, physicians, employees and auxiliaries), the Foundation raised a total of $1.3 million internally! It had placed itself in a strong position for seeking support from outside sources.

The campaign ended in 1994 and the Foundation achieved its goal. In a show of gratitude, the Foundation organised a special event at the hospital, during which it unveiled a glass-block recognition wall located in the lobby of the hospital’s main entrance, bearing the names of the donors who made a significant contribution to this first campaign.

According to the Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees at the time, Michel Coulombe: "The Foundation was able to meet its commitment to helping make up the shortfall for the hospital expansion group through the determination, dedication and creativity of community groups and the business community.”

“SOS Montfort Fund” (1997-2001)

When Hôpital Montfort was targeted for closure by the Health Services Restructuring Commission of Ontario, the Foundation wasted no time in rallying all of its resources and staff to the SOS Montfort cause. Given its mandate to develop and promote the objectives of Hôpital Montfort, the Foundation could not stand idly by while its very reason for being came under attack.

The Foundation’s Executive Director at the time, Jacques Blouin, along with the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and volunteers, worked tirelessly for three years (1997-2000) in leading the campaign to fund the institution’s legal costs.

The SOS Fund set its goal at $500,000. The Foundation embarked on a major campaign organized along four fronts: the community, religious communities, a local campaign and a national campaign. After only three months of intense campaigning, the Foundation had already raised close to $325,000! The phenomenal success of this campaign provided a launch pad for the campaign to support the New Montfort.

"Building a Unique Institution Together" (2005-2010)

This major fundraising campaign aimed to promote the development of a community-based, university teaching hospital complex, namely, a Francophone institution where research, teaching, clinical education and practice in the health fields would take place in French. The goal was to raise $ 10 million in order to build a unique institution: the New Montfort.

Encouraged by the strong support they received for the Montfort cause, the Foundation decided to solicit donations at the regional, provincial and national levels. It solicited companies and financial institutions, professional associations, cooperatives, foundations and charities, religious communities, volunteer and community agencies, social clubs, political communities, academic institutions, the media and the staff and physicians of the hospital. One anonymous donor kicked off the campaign with a $1 million donation; hoping it would “encourage others to support the cause as well”. Members of the Boards of Trustees of the hospital and the Foundation, all of them volunteers, contributed a total of $175,000. The Foundation also raised $307,000 during an intense, three-week campaign among employees, surpassing its initial $100,000 objective. Hôpital Montfort physicians contributed $700,000.

During the campaign, the Foundation was quick to approach major donors. Amongst the 130 major donors ($10,000 or more), were:

City of Vanier, $700,000
Daughters of Wisdom of Canada, $500,000
580 CFRA, TEAM 1200, MAJIC 100 and 93.9 BOB FM, $397,850 in advertising
Desjardins, $230,000
Giant Tiger Stores Ltd., $200,000
Borden Ladner Gervais l.l.c., $125,000
Univex Group of Companies, $111,879
La Coopérative agricole d’Embrun Ltée., $105,000
ZW Group Inc., $100,000
The Frank Cowan Foundation, $100,000
EllisDon Corporation, $100,000


The campaign exceeded its initial objective of $10 million. In fact, over $11.5 million was raised in 2010.

The “New Montfort” was not only the largest expansion in the history of Hôpital Montfort, it was also the largest infrastructure project in the history of Ontario's Francophone community. The Foundation’s fundraising contributed to this major, $300 million construction project, which added 450,000 square feet of new space to the hospital, for a total floor area of 750,000 square feet, that is triple the size of the original 1953 building! 

In 2011, the Foundation inaugurated two donor walls of recognition: the central artwork, created by visual artist David Lemelin and located at the hospital’s new main entrance, is an artistic tribute to donors who showed their solidarity for the Foundation’s mission in support of Hôpital Montfort by contributing amounts from $10,000 to $1 million. A second wall acknowledges the generosity of all other donors.

The Foundation in Action

Clearly, the mission of the Foundation is to financially support Hôpital Montfort: each contribution to the Foundation has a direct impact on patients and the people around them, staff and the community. In addition to infrastructure projects, the monies raised by the Foundation are reinvested in acquiring equipment, investing in research, delivering education and training health professionals.

In recent years, the Foundation has invested in highly specialised equipment, such as a digital mammography system, a digital x-ray mobile C-arm imaging system for the orthopedics department, and two non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices. To commemorate the hospital’s 60th anniversary, the Foundation is organizing a Gala on February 14, 2014, the Choco Chic Gala, to raise funds for a cardiac CT scanner.

Not only does the Foundation donate $840,000 each year to l’Institut de recherche de l'Hôpital Montfort, it also encourages the training of future health professionals in French by offering annual bursaries and scholarships to students of the University of Ottawa, La Cité and the Collège Boréal. 

While supporting the growth, expansion and promotion of Hôpital Montfort’s objectives, the Foundation participates on its own behalf in activities that celebrate the community that the hospital serves. For example, it led the fundraising campaign for erecting the Monument de la Francophonie on Hôpital Montfort grounds, inaugurated in October 2010, in honour of the community that has risen to many challenges as it sought to obtain quality service in French in the health and social services fields. It also contributed $5,000 respectively to the monuments de la Francophonie of the University of Ottawa and of Hawkesbury. 

Furthermore, the Foundation is proud to remind us of the momentous events in Hôpital Montfort’s history. For example, on March 22, 2012, during Franco-Ontarian Solidarity Day, it organised an event to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Grand Ralliement (public demonstration) which was held to ensure the survival of Hôpital Montfort.