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Ian Proudfoot

2016 East Gwillimbury

“We try to be an example of building great communities and hope that, through our efforts, others get involved in giving back.”

Ian Proudfoot was born in 1953 in Toronto. He moved to East Gwillimbury in 1962 where he has lived most of his life with his wife, Kathy and their five children.

From 1973 to 1977, Ian attended Trent University, with plans to become a teacher. Instead, through the Newmarket Public Library, he applied for a historical research grant to index the Newmarket Era and Express publication (from 1853 to 1900). As the grant was expiring, the local newspaper in Bradford was looking for an assistant circulation manager, and Ian was fortunate to get the position. Initially, he thought he would do that for a year, gain some business experience, and then get a “real job.” Ian never left, however, and as VP & Regional Publisher of Metroland Media Group Ltd., the newspaper and media business turned out to be a good fit.

“This is a wonderful business to be in. It’s not just about telling stories and reporting news; a newspaper can build a community.”

Ian recalls his first memory of giving back when he and a group of colleagues at the newspaper met with the mayor, chamber of commerce and local businesses to bring an annual Santa Claus parade to the town of Bradford. The paper supported Joe Persechini’s Easter Seals Run/Walk, through which Ian was introduced to Joe’s positive influence. Whipper Billy Watson, who understood how to raise funds, also had a great impact on him. Ian felt that if these busy people could give back, then so could he.

Seventeen years ago, Ian and a group of colleagues were looking for a unique way to say thank you to clients and return something significant to the community. They came up with the idea of showcasing the arts and brought artist and producer, Doug Pettigrew, on board. With the support of then Markham Mayor, Don Cousins, they began to plan “The Celebration of the Arts”, an event held annually in late fall. Ian’s portrait was taken in the Markham Theatre where this special night is held.

“Arts and culture are what helps define and build a sense of community. I’m a sports fan. I don’t say this to take away from sports, but if we look back over the history of mankind, storytelling was in the arts. It does not live in sports; it lives in the arts. By profession, in the newspaper and media business, we are story tellers. So it’s easy for me to gravitate towards storytelling, whether that is painting or photography, or a person who has written a song and performed or created a dance. I love going to a hockey game, but art moves you in a way nothing else can!”

Until the Markham Theatre became available, this occasion took place at the Hilton Suites, with guest performances from Glass Tiger, the York Symphony, and the Good Brothers. The organizers quickly realized the young talent was so good that no guest acts would be needed going forward. With the help of Don Cousins and a number of municipalities and clients who put up bursaries, and the added support of Metroland Media, hundreds of young artists in York Region have received bursaries to the value of close to $400,000.

Ian has been dedicated to working with hospitals in York Region, particularly Southlake Regional Health Centre. He served on the foundation for a year, and as well, contributed to their media relations community campaign during the first of their big drives, the Cardiac campaign.

“When you support your hospital, there is no discrimination; you are supporting your community.”

Generously, Ian continues to give of his time, serving on the Y.M.C.A. board of directors, United Way board, Children’s Fund, Deaf /Blind Services of Canada, and more.

“The education that I have gained by volunteering is far beyond anything I could have gotten at any university. I’ve worked with incredible people, leaders who share a common cause. I view it as a wonderful developmental opportunity while building something much better, so that hopefully your kids will one day say, “This is a great community. What can I do to make it even better?”


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