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Christie-Smith Community Fund to benefit Cumberland County

David Christie, chair of the new Christie-Smith Community Fund, speaks during an announcement June 9 about the creation of the new $15-million fund that will support charitable causes across Cumberland County.

Since its inception 18 years ago, the Dr. H & Mrs. H.E. Christie Community Foundation has given more than $3 million dollars to numerous organizations in the Amherst area.

 Now, with the support of the estate of Michael D. Smith, the Christie-Smith Community Fund will extend its reach across Cumberland County.

“We are very fortunate to be able to extend the work of the original Christie foundation from just the Amherst area to all of Cumberland County,” foundation chair David Christie said. “With the Christie Foundation we were only able to support activities in the Town of Amherst and the Amherst area, but Michael Smith’s executors wanted that the be expanded to include all of Cumberland County.”

Christie said approximately $345,000 will be available each year to support community activities.

The Christie foundation was created in 2004 by Dr. Hugh Christie and he acted as its chair and appointed the organization’s first board of trustees. Since his death, at age 95 in 2010, his nephew, David, has led its activities.

Hugh Christie was a native of Amherst who received his medical degree from Dalhousie University in 1939 and continued his studies in research in Toronto and in Montreal at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Children’s Memorial Hospital and McGill University, receiving his fellowship degree in 1949 from the Royal College of Physicians of Canada in internal medicine.

He returned to Amherst in 1949 as an internist with special interest in heart disease. He worked at the former school for the deaf in Amherst and was on the Amherst hospital board of trustees and was medical chief of staff until 1980.

He retired from the active medical staff in 1996.

Dr. Hugh Christie was a huge supporter of his community. His legacy has continued since his passing in 2010.  

For many years, the foundation operated quietly, but had no difficulty finding deserving charities and causes to support in and around Amherst.When Smith passed away suddenly in 2017, he directed in his will that the bulk of his estate benefit all of Cumberland County.

A life-long resident of Amherst, Smith had supported numerous charitable causes for many years.Foundation vice-chair Morris Haugg said Smith was very active in the lumber and investment business and supported numerous community causes.

Smith was born in Halifax, but grew up in Amherst and after graduating from Acadia University and attending Western University in London, Ont to study toward his MBA, he headed out west to learn about the lumber business before starting his career as a wholesale lumber broker in the family-owned A.D. Smith Lumber business.

He retired at a relatively early age to focus on the financial markets. His skill and success allowed him to support many causes during his life – something he did not only very generously, but also very quietly.

“It was fitting in his will that the bulk of his estate go to the community,” Haugg said. “It could’ve resulted in a second parallel organization but the executors wisely decided to have the money combined under one administration.”

With the funds from Smith’s estate, the Christie-Smith Community Fund has more than $15 million to support charitable causes.

Cumberland County Mayor Murray Scott is pleased to see the fund expanded to cover the county.

“We have to thank the Christie and Smith families for the great effort they’re making to help make Cumberland County a great place to live,” the mayor said. “I know several groups have already benefitted from the Christie foundation and we can only imagine how the county as a whole will benefit from this new community fund.”

Scott sees many organizations being able to benefit from the fund – some of which would never have been able to benefit before.

“Thanks doesn’t seem to be enough,” Scott said. “What a legacy for these two successful individuals to leave behind and what an opportunity for groups to benefit from that legacy. I’m sure many organizations will benefit from this.”

The Canada Revenue Agency annually determines the minimum amount the fund has to pay out through grants.

The Christie foundation has partnered with area churches, municipal units and other foundations and organizations to assist health care, education, sports and recreation, religion, arts and culture, food insecurity and other social needs.

Some of the donations include more than $680,000 for school breakfast programs, the Amherst Food Assistance Network, the After the School Bell Program and church benevolent funds. The Cumberland YMCA has received more than $400,000 and the Cumberland County Museum has received more than $$120,000.Cumberland Health Care has also seen many programs supported by the foundation, including the hospital foundation’s Light the Way Campaign at Christmas, the hospital gift shop, the professional health-care recruitment and physician recruitment and retention initiatives as well as a walking trail the hospital, the Cancer Assistance Fund, mental health, youth fund and careers bursaries programs.

“The Town of Amherst and the Municipality of Cumberland have been very good to partner with us. Some of the funding applications come from organizations that are not registered charities and we’re mandated to only give to registered charities,” Christie said. “We can donate to both those municipalities, who are registered charities, and they can direct the money to organizations like minor hockey, little league baseball, sports facilities and other applicants.”

The organization will have a new administrator with John Matthews replacing the retiring Paul Mahaney. Mahaney, who has also worked with the W.B. Wells Heritage Foundation, joined the Christie foundation as its part-time administrator and secretary in 2004. He retired in October.

Matthews recently retired with more than 40 years business and management experience. He is also a longtime volunteer firefighter and has been very active in Amherst First Baptist Church and other community organizations.

More details on the foundation can be found at www.tcscf.ca or by email at .