Helen Gardiner, a former York student who co-founded Toronto’s Gardiner Museum, died at her home in Caledon on Tuesday, July 22, 2008. Just days after her 70th birthday, Gardiner passed away after a short but courageous battle with cancer.
Helen Elizabeth Gardiner was among Canada’s most respected philanthropists and arts patrons. Born on July 18, 1938, in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, she was a student at York University and Christie’s Fine Arts School in London, England.
In 1984, Gardiner and her late husband, former York Board of Governors member George Gardiner (LLD ’82, Hon. Univ. Prof. ‘90), established the Gardiner Museum and donated the founding collection. The late Murray Ross, president of York University, helped the Gardiners negotiate the lease of a tennis court on the east side of Queen’s Park, directly opposite the Royal Ontario Museum, from the University of Toronto, where the museum was built.
From 2003 to 2006, she headed the museum’s capital campaign, which funded the award-winning transformation of the building. The Museum will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2009.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, July 28, 2008 at 11am and will take place at St. James Cathedral, 65 Church St., Toronto.