A Winnipeg business owner and philanthropist has requested her estate, $500 million, should be donated to The Winnipeg Foundation making it the largest donation ever given to a Canadian charity by an individual.  

According to a press release, The Winnipeg Foundation has announced an extraordinary unrestricted gift from the late Miriam Bergen, owner, and president of Appleton Holdings Ltd. – a privately held company that carries on business as Edison Properties.

"It is with immense gratitude I am here today to announce a gift that will be transformational for our community," said Winnipeg Foundation Board Chair Tom Bryk yesterday. "The late Miriam Bergen, President of Appleton Holdings, has left this unprecedented gift to The Winnipeg Foundation, and we are honoured by the trust she has placed in us. We anticipate when the gift is fully realized, it will provide significant additional resources into the community annually."

Appleton Holdings Ltd. was formerly Marlborough Developments and was started by Bergen's parents, Martin and Ruth Bergen who were also philanthropists.

"Here is another example of how the people of Manitoba are the most generous in the country. Miriam Bergen and her family have left an incredible legacy that will have a positive impact for generations to come and we thank them, from the bottom of our hearts," says Bryk.

Appleton Holdings Ltd. owns and operates residential and commercial buildings in Winnipeg through Edison Properties, many of which are in the North Kildonan area of the city.

"Most of her giving was anonymous because it was the act of giving, not the recognition, that inspired her," says Bergen's cousin, Doris Gietz. "However, I feel it is important for the community to know about this gift because it will make such a difference. It is the culmination of her quiet, lifelong generosity and will be Bergen’s legacy."

The Winnipeg Foundation was founded in 1921 as Canada’s first community foundation. Last year the foundation distributed $84.9 million to approximately 1,100 charitable organizations in Winnipeg.

"Miriam Bergen will be remembered as a visionary for our community. Her incredibly generous gift will transform The Winnipeg Foundation’s ability to support the community," says Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sky Bridges. "This stunning support from Miriam Bergen, and her love for our city and all who live here, will help us address Winnipeg’s most pressing challenges today, and in the future."

Appleton Holdings Ltd. currently employs over 200 staff and manages/owns 27 properties. 

"Coming with nothing, creating something, Miriam being very much a part of building this business with her father, and then her deciding to give it all back, is just incredibly humbling," says Bridges.