Memorable Manitobans: Kathleen Margaret Richardson (1928-2019)
Community activist, philanthropist.
Born at Winnipeg on 5 May 1928, daughter of James Armstrong Richardson and Muriel Anne Sprague, she attended Riverbend School for Girls, Bishop Strachan School (Toronto, Ontario), Kelvin High School (1945), and the University of Manitoba (BA, 1949). Through her business career, she was a member of several corporate boards including Gulf Canada (1977-1987), Sun-Life Assurance Company (1978-1998), Barclays Bank of Canada (1984-1994), and James Richardson & Sons (1954-1998).
Widely recognized for her philanthropic work, she served on the boards of the Manitoba Arts Council (1969-1973), Canada Council (1964-1970), Winnipeg Art Gallery (1983-1991), Pan-Am Games Society (1964-1970), and The Winnipeg Foundation (1971-1982). As President of the Kathleen M. Richardson Foundation, she supported such arts groups as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Contemporary Dancers, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. She was perhaps best known for her long association with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (President, 1957-1961). Much of her support was given anonymously, without public fanfare. In 1991, she quietly became one of the first four female members of the Manitoba Club, which had previously been a male-only bastion.
In recognition of her community service, Miss Richardson received a Manitoba Golden Boy Award (1961), Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba (1989), and was inducted into the Order of Canada (1994) and the Order of Manitoba (2005). In recognition of her long-term work on behalf of Dalnavert Museum, along with Kathleen F. Campbell, she received a Distinguished Service Award from Heritage Winnipeg. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Manitoba (1975) and the Edmund C. Bovey Award from the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada (1991).
She died unmarried at Winnipeg on 14 September 2019. She was selected posthumously as a Manitoba Woman Trailblazer.
“Welcome to the club,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 February 1992, page 13.
Courage, Truth, Right: One Hundred Years of Kelvin High School History by Kelvin High School, 2014, page 47.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 18 September 2019.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 3 February 2021