Beatrice Hunter’s Legacy

  • Beatrice Hunter’s Legacy

Beatrice Hunter was a longtime supporter of the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, through the Foundation’s annual Molly Appeal. A native of River John, Nova Scotia, she moved to Ontario with her husband, John Hunter, but always considered Nova Scotia to be home. While generous with their donations, the couple maintained a modest lifestyle, conserving their earnings and any bequests.

In 1997, while she was still living, Beatrice gave an anonymous gift of nearly $2.2 million to the Foundation to help establish several research labs in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine. The most significant of these was the Retina and Optic Nerve Research Laboratory, which houses a thriving vision research program.

Beatrice Hunter passed away on December 10, 1999 at the age of 90. Early in 2000, the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation learned that she had left $12.5 million to the Foundation – the largest single donation in its history!

Beatrice left instructions that the bequest be used to establish an endowment for cancer research in memory of her parents, Dr. Owen and Mrs. Pearle Cameron, also of River John, Nova Scotia. Dr. Cameron, who practiced in Cumberland County, was well known throughout Nova Scotia as a conscientious and skillful physician.

Beatrice Hunter’s bequest gave cancer research in Atlantic Canada an unprecedented boost. Carefully managed through the Cameron Endowment Fund, her gift generates $500,000 each year in support of cancer research, in perpetuity. This stable funding was a major opportunity that prompted Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, Dalhousie Medical School and Cancer Care Nova Scotia to form the Dalhousie Cancer Research Program, to provide impetus and direction to the community’s growing cancer research effort. One of the program’s early milestones was the appointment of Dr. Patrick Lee as the first Dr. Owen and Pearle Cameron Chair in Basic Cancer Research in 2003.

While living, Beatrice Hunter did not seek recognition for her gifts. She wished only to support research in the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine, so that local researchers could contribute to the greater body of knowledge that will someday yield a cure for cancer. Her bequest was a gift that will help generations of people for years to come.