The PSBGM Cultural Heritage Foundation is a non-profit corporation established in May of 1980 under the Canada Corporations Act. The primary purpose of the Foundation was to maintain and promote a collection of paintings donated to the Foundation by the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal in the early nineteen eighties. This collection had been acquired over a period of time through generous donations of various benefactors as well as the purchase of some.
Our heritage through art
The art collection generally related to works by Canadian artists or subjects of general Canadian interest. During the 1930s, in particular, some parents and alumni wished to thank and recognize individual schools with a gifts of a work of art. The purchase of these works of art encouraged relatively young and unknown painters of the time. A large number of the paintings in the PSBGM collection were largely the result of the efforts of Anne Savage. She had been the art teacher at Baron Byng High School from 1922-1948 and went on to be the Art Supervisor for the Montreal Protestant School Board until she retired in 1952. Although Ms. Savage had retired from the PSBGM, she was still very active in the art world.
When the PSBGM moved its administrative building from McTavish Street to Fielding Avenue in July 1961, Anne savage was given the mandate to purchase Canadian art for the new building. The works included paintings by A.Y. Jackson, Robert W. Pilot, Lorne Bouchard, Maurice Cullen, Frederick Arbuckle, Albert Cloutier, Frederick Coburn and more. The numerous works by A.Y. Jackson are perhaps due to the close association between Savage and Jackson, as well as, her relationship with the Group of Seven. In addition, Anne savage used her influence to have some of the painters donate paintings to some schools, particularly, Baron Byng High School and The High School of Montreal.
Anne Savage’s own works came to 6000 Fielding only when Baron Byng was closed. They were “discovered” packed away in the basement of the school (these did not include the 14 panels in the high schools cafeteria). The two large historical paintings by Robert W. Pilot were moved to the 4th floor Board room upon the closure of the High School of Montreal. A. Y. Jackson’s oil painting – Winter St. Fidele, Quebec, was installed in the Director general’s office when Marcel Fox was appointed to the post. Previously, it had been at Baron Byng High School. Most of the paintings of the collection have been housed at 6000 Fielding, while some heve been housed in schools of the EMSB and two were at the Town of Mount Royal library.
The Foundation has, on occasion, loaned some of the works of art for exhibition purposes to art galleries. Noteworthy is the loan of the A. Y. Jackson painting “St. Fidele, Quebec” to the National Gallery of Canada for exhibition all across Canada from October 1995 to December 1996. The Foundation made its first donation in 2002 when it gave to Concordia University Art Gallery a two sided panel painted by Anne Savage for the Baron Byng High School library.
The creation of a scholarship fund
In its efforts to always keep the collection intact, the Foundation pursued various Strategies from donating the entire collection to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to soliciting the different levels of government to finding new private benefactors.
After efforts proved to be unsuccessful, the Foundation, in the early 2010s, undertook to sell the greater part of the collection. The Foundation proceeded to seek a legal opinion on the right of the Foundation to sell the collection and establish scholarships to benefit the students of EMSB. The legal opinion provided by the firm Stikeman Elliot concluded that the Letters Patent of the Foundation gave it such rights and allowed it to continue to operate even if its only activity was to provide scholarships.
In September 2012, the EMSB Council of Commissioners was informed of the decision to sell the collection and establish a scholarship fund for EMSB students. Following the sale, the PSBGM Cultural Heritage Foundation created an endowment for the purpose of providing scholarships to EMSB students to continue their studies. The general guidelines for the scholarships were developed by the Foundation in concert with EMSB school administrators. The general guidelines established provide for the recognition of excellent academic achievement or perseverance agaist overwhelming odds. The number of scholarships allocated to a school is based on the enrolment of the graduating class at each learning institution.