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Former resident leaves a lasting legacy for Hamiota grads

Archie Gilchrist had been anonymously awarding bursaries for local grads for years, now funds provided by his estate will carry on the tradition

For the past number of years, an anonymous $500 bursary has been presented to two graduating students from Hamiota Collegiate each June.

Several things changed this year: the “look” of the graduation and awards ceremony itself, the anonymity and amount of the award.

Why it matters: The previously anonymous source of bursaries to Hamiota graduates is now the name behind an annual memorial award.

A $300,000 estate bequest from Archie Gilchrist, a former Hamiota resident, will now underpin the awards, it has been announced.

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“The bursary that has been established in Mr. Gilchrist’s name is an extremely generous donation to the students of Hamiota Collegiate (HCI),” principal Bruce Coulter said. “To know that this bursary will be awarded on a yearly basis to students attending Hamiota Collegiate is a tremendous gift.”

Funds will be held in trust by the Park West School Division Foundation, and the investment return paid out toward a bursary each year.

“The bequest specified that the original amount of the donation shall not be encroached upon, meaning that the earnings from investing the original $300,000 can be paid out annually, and that the original $300,000 will remain invested forever,” said Dorelle Fulton, secretary-treasurer of the Park West School Division. “This is truly an everlasting legacy.”

The annual award has been dubbed the Archie Gilchrist Memorial Scholarship and, “will be awarded to the student or students at Hamiota Collegiate who might not have the best marks but display good citizenship skills and solid leadership traits that the committee believes can be beneficial for society in the future,” according to Gilchrist’s will.

“Archie was a private man,” said Dana Routledge, former community resource co-ordinator with the Hamiota Seniors Council, where she got to know Gilchrist well, “but the size of his heart was massive and (he) recognized those who had tough circumstances, sympathized with them and often sent money to help.”

Gilchrist’s cousin, Murray Peel of Miniota, echoed the sentiment.

“Archie was a quiet man. He was a good farmer, a good neighbour and he always had time to help anyone out when needed,” Peel said. “He had no children of his own, but helping youth in 4-H and school was important to him, especially the ones who already had goals in mind.

“It always seemed important to him that a student be community minded, have a good work ethic and have a goal in mind of what they wanted to do after school,” Peel added.

Routledge agreed. It was Routledge that Gilchrist turned to when it came time to select students for the anonymous bursary each year.

“The school had no influence on his decision,” she said, noting Gilchrist’s efforts to seek out the students to ask questions, as well as the number of students who worked with the seniors’ council, played crib with him or had personal connections with Gilchrist.

As far as the previous anonymity, both Routledge and Peel said that Gilchrist didn’t offer funds with any intention of personal gain or recognition.

At the same time, the award wasn’t totally anonymous. Although always presented anonymously at the awards ceremony, Gilchrist always felt that a “thank you” was in order after students received his personal cheque and designated a wall in his house for photos and thank-you cards from recipients.

Originally from the Miniota area, Gilchrist moved to Hamiota in the late ’90s with his wife, Gladys, who predeceased him in 2003. Archie continued to live in his house and quietly support community efforts until his passing in October 2019.

2020 recipient

Due to financial market volatility and decline in rates driven by COVID-19, the bursary this year will pay out $800, lower than expected for a normal year.

“When financial markets recover, we can expect this bequest to pay out approximately $8,500 to $14,000 per year to recipients, after administrative expenses,” Fulton said.

The bequest will, “give graduating students at Hamiota Collegiate an opportunity to have a significant amount of their first-year post-secondary education expenses paid for,” she added. “For some students, these funds may make the difference needed to allow them to pursue their dreams.”

This year’s recipient is Jamie Waddell.

“Jamie is a deserving candidate for many reasons,” Coulter said. “He is a strong academic student but is also a very involved student who made things better at HCI. Jamie was on the student council, participated in many extracurricular activities, was the chair of our Youth in Philanthropy committee and, just as importantly, he was a kind and caring student who treated all staff and students with respect.”

Brenda Hunter writes from the Virden area.

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