THE JAMES HILLIER FOUNDATION HISTORYWhen Frank Matthews moved back to his home town of Brantford in 1990 he joined the Grand River Kiwanis Club. He was asked to obtain some speakers for the club. Frank had worked for James Hillier, Sr. in 1940. He was well aware of the famous scientist/inventor son and his involvement with the electron microscope. Frank had always had great respect and admiration for James Hillier and all of his family.
Thus, he decided to contact Dr. James Hillier and was pleasantly surprised when the invitation to speak was accepted. When asked to define Dr. James Hillier as an individual, Frank Matthews replied as follows. "Dr. James Hillier is a warm, kind, humble man of superior intellect. He loves life and is at home in any group of people. He is not only a world renowned scientist and inventor, but is also a philosopher on any subject involving man's endeavours on this planet earth. His energy and thought processes never cease to amaze me. Have no doubts that this man is a genius with outstanding abilities. He just also happens to be a wonderful humanitarian." At the time that had been arranged for Dr. Hillier's visit, he had a bad fall and was hospitalized. This caused a year's delay.
In 1992, a group of Brantford citizens arranged a "James Hillier Day in Brantford." Dr. Hillier was honoured by the City of Brantford with a civic reception. He visited local schools and spoke to many students who had never met this famous man. Among other commitments, he spoke to a joint meeting of the two Brantford Kiwanis Clubs. Shortly after this visit, Frank Matthews had lunch with a group of Kiwanians. Those present were Lloyd Lawrence, Frank Mclnnes, Wes Scarrow and Glen Watson. Frank Matthews suggested that following the successful "James Hillier Day in Brantford", it might be appropriate to consider doing something further to honour this famous citizen. Thus there began the James Hillier Foundation. Today, the James Hillier Foundation is justly proud of its accomplishments.
These accomplishments are as follows:
It started the James Hillier Scholarship Fund which today has a capital fund invested in a portfolio of bonds and stocks. This investment allows an income that will keep up to 12 Brant County science students in university. Each student receives $5,000 annually which goes towards their tuition fees, books and living costs.
James Hillier would never have gone to university without scholarship help. Because of this fact, he offered to donate $500,000 US dollars if Brantford citizens would donate the same funds in Canadian dollars. Five Brantford citizens, two Brantford school boards and S. C. Johnson and Son Ltd. donated $75,000 each and the James Hillier Scholarship Fund was in business.
The scholarship fund is quite different from the norm. Dr. Hillier wanted it to be a science-related and only open to graduates of the seven Brant County high schools.
The fund's objective is to greatly increase the scholarship fund in future years so that in the tradition of Bell and Hillier, Brant County will be famous as the home of Canada's outstanding scientists.
The James Hillier Scholarship Fund is unique in that its funds go virtually 100 per cent into scholarships. The James Hillier Foundation is a strictly volunteer organization. Any overhead including accounting, legal, secretarial etc. is done by local board member volunteers. The James Hillier Scholarship Fund has been set up to last for perpetuity. Donations to this fund will hopefully be working in the year 2500 to serve Brant County science students.
The James Hillier Foundation gave a great deal of priority to the completion of a series of audio visual films starring James Hillier. One film, 'Through the Looking Glass," deals with Dr. Hillier's life in general. Two other films deal with the electron microscope's relationship to medicine and industry. Other films have Dr. Hillier answering students' questions, in conversation with students, and just generally talking off the cuff. The James Hillier Foundation has a total of approximately nine hours of Dr. Hillier on film for future generations to observe and study. Most of the costs of this filming was given voluntarily by Rogers Cable, which donated cameras, crews and a director to the filming. The cost of "Through the Looking Glass" was generously donated by the Stedman Foundation which, as visionaries, recognized the value of these films to future generations.
Dr. Hillier donated all of his papers to the City of Brantford. These papers include, among many other fascinating documents, his original plans for the electron microscope built at the University of Toronto and the James Hillier Foundation has agreed to act as custodians of these valuable documents.
The Foundation has taken on the enormous task of sorting, filing, and presenting the documents. An agreement was secured with the Apotex Pharmachem Inc. to preserve these papers in a secure, climate controlled location.
The James Hillier Foundation's most cherished accomplishment is that we have made one of Brantford’s most famous past citizens into a living reality. His great works should be, and now are, a source of great pride to the citizens of his home town.
The James Hillier Foundation is managed by a board of directors consisting of 15 volunteer citizens. The directors make a small annual donation to cover overhead costs. About a half of the directors are professional people who offer their professional time free of charge to carry out the necessary work for the foundation and the scholarship fund.
The scholarship fund is managed by two Board of Directors committees. The Investment Committee is responsible for investing the scholarship funds to receive the maximum safe return. The Selection Committee under is responsible for selecting successful scholarship students. This committee is also responsible for the payment of funds during the year to the students. The remaining directors each carry out works that are required by the foundation such as fund-raising and public relations.
Dr. Hillier was awarded an honourary Order of Canada. This achievement came about through the effort of three non-board members. These three citizens, Ed Eason, Jack Jarvie and Ron Middleton,' put a great deal of time and effort into securing this honour.
Over the past seven years the James Hillier Foundation has become a living part of the City of Brantford. It is now a successful established charitable foundation. During its formative years a lot of advice was received from another Brantford Foundation, The Samuel Stedman Foundation. There is no doubt that Mr. Eason and the Stedman sisters were the James Hillier Foundation's mentors.