Weston, Hilary M.
Hilary M. Weston, philanthropist, businesswoman, lieutenant-governor of ONTARIO from 1997 to 2002 (b in Dublin, Ireland, 12 Jan 1942). Born Hilary Frayne, she grew up in Dublin, Ireland and is the eldest of five children. In 1966, she married Galen Weston and had two children, Alannah and Galen. In 1972, she and her family moved from Ireland to Toronto. In 1979, Weston founded the Ireland Fund of Canada, a non-partisan, non-denominational organization which funds community projects in Ireland, many of which are designed to promote peace.
Prior to her appointment, Weston had an extensive background in business and philanthropy. As Deputy Chair of Holt Renfrew for 10 years, she promoted Canadian designers and merchandise and helped to revitalize a business that has been a Canadian tradition since 1837. Through her work with Holt Renfrew and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, she supported cultural projects, research into breast cancer and AIDS, and a number of not-for-profit organizations. She also explored her interest in homes and gardens by co-authoring two books, entitled In a Canadian Garden and At Home in Canada.
She was installed as Ontario's 26th lieutenant-governor on January 24, 1997 and was only the second woman to hold this position in the province. She focused much of her time as lieutenant-governor on celebrating the achievements of people across the province, especially those of volunteers, women and young people. In 1998, Weston introduced the Lieutenant Governor's Community Volunteer Award to recognize exceptional volunteers. In 2000, the Community Volunteer Award program was expanded to honour the voluntary work of students graduating from Ontario's 1100 secondary schools.
To underscore her commitment to supporting young people, Weston established The Hilary M. Weston Foundation for Youth, toward which she donated her salary. The Foundation funded First Connection, a career development initiative launched in May 1998. The program placed 88 Grade 12 students from across the province as summer management interns with successful companies, allowing them to gain knowledge, experience and contacts.
Weston attended or hosted close to 1500 events. She participated in events in 87 Ontario communities, from Sioux Lookout to Leamington and from Kenora to Cornwall. She introduced the concept of the Drop-in, in which a lieutenant-governor would visit Ontarians informally in the places they work, volunteer or are helped.
Weston continually explored new ways of making the vice-regal role contemporary, accessible and relevant to Ontarians. For the first time in history, the lieutenant-governor held key events away from Queen's Park, celebrating Canada Day in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Stratford and Markham, and hosting the New Year's Levee in Kingston and in London. Her Farewell Levee was held at Queen's Park in January 2002. Weston and her husband, Galen, undertook international trips to represent Ontario abroad, at the Toronto Olympic Bid Presentation in Moscow, at the Passing of the World Youth Day Cross at the Vatican, and on a homecoming visit to Ireland.
To support Ontario artists, Weston invited several artists' organizations to install exhibitions of contemporary art in the Lieutenant-Governor's Suite. To provide greater accessibility, Weston made the Suite available to over 74,000 people who took part in public tours of Queen's Park and visited during the Canada Day Open House and Doors Open Toronto.