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Kenneth Thomson – a “Great Canadian”

June 12th, 2006


The Art Gallery of Ontario is deeply saddened by the passage this morning of longtime friend and benefactor Kenneth Thomson.

"We at the Art Gallery of Ontario are enormously saddened at the untimely death of Ken Thomson, a great Canadian and the greatest benefactor of the Gallery," says Matthew Teitelbaum, the Michael and Sonja Koerner director, and CEO. "We express our deepest sympathies to the Thomson family."

"For the past number of years the Art Gallery of Ontario was privileged to work with Ken to realize a shared dream, of making our institution one of the great cultural centres in North America.

"It saddens us all that Ken will not be with us to realize and celebrate this great vision. It was, for all of us, a dream to share our pleasure with him at our opening."

An avid collector and Transformation AGO’s lead donor, Kenneth was chairman of Woodbridge Company Ltd. From 1978 to 2002 he chaired the Publishing and Information Group of Thomson Corporation. In 2002, the AGO announced his unprecedented gift of $50 million to initiate a transformation of the AGO and $20 million to endow future operations.

Concurrent with his gift was a spectacular donation of more than 2,000 artworks from the Thomson collection, including important works by the Group of Seven and the masterpiece The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens.

"The Art Gallery of Ontario has always held a special place in my heart, and I am confident that it represents the best opportunity to share my passion for art with the people of this city, Ontario, Canada and the world," Thomson said last year at the public launch of Transformation AGO. "Knowing Frank and knowing what he’s putting into this building, I know I’ll be intensely proud of the Art Gallery of Ontario and it won’t be difficult for people to catch that spirit."


Image caption:
The Art Gallery of Ontario announced a $500 million transformation, including an unprecedented donation of art and funding by Kenneth Thomson (right) and a physical redesign and expansion led by Frank Gehry (middle). Matthew Teitelbaum, the Michael and Sonja Koerner director, and CEO, joins Kenneth Thomson and Frank Gehry for the announcement made on Tuesday, November 19, 2002 at the AGO in Toronto.

(CANADA NEWSWIRE PHOTO/Art Gallery of Ontario)
Paul-Émile Borduas
Bercement Silencieux, 1956
oil on canvas, 114.3 x 145.4 cm
The Thomson Collection
© Estate of Paul-Émile Borduas / SODRAC (Montreal) 2006

2 Responses to “Kenneth Thomson – a “Great Canadian””

  1. Jay S. says:

    Although I am not a resident of Canada, I have always considered the AGO, my second home for the past twelve years.
    I am amazed at the amount of dedication that exists in Toronto for the AGO.
    Kenneth Thomson is the perfect example of an unselfish, caring individual that wanted to share his passion with the rest of Toronto, Canada and the world.
    There are a few individuals in my community that are worth millions of dollars and they would not donate one cent to the cause!!
    Thank you Kenneth, may you rest in peace.

  2. Jay S. says:

    Although I am not a resident of Canada, I have always considered the AGO, my second home for the past twelve years.
    I am amazed at the amount of dedication that exists in Toronto for the AGO.
    Kenneth Thomson is the perfect example of an unselfish, caring individual that wanted to share his passion with the rest of Toronto, Canada and the world.
    There are a few individuals in my community that are worth millions of dollars and they would not donate one cent to the cause!!
    Thank you Kenneth, may you rest in peace.

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