Fine Arts patron Pierre Lassonde makes $5-million gift to Mount Allison University’s Fine Arts program

25 Feb 2021

Mount Allison names the Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts

SACKVILLE, NB — Mount Allison University’s Fine Arts program has received a $5-million gift from one of Canada’s most notable patrons of the arts — Toronto businessman and philanthropist Pierre Lassonde.

PLassonde_web“We at the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation are delighted to make this gift. It is our goal to ignite, advance, and support the next generation of fine artists and to promote artistic excellence and expression across Canada and abroad,” says Pierre Lassonde. “The fine arts have played an important role in our family life but, more than that, art is a universal language that can unite and represent the best of us. We are very proud to be supporting the Fine Arts students of Mount Allison as they shape their artistic vision.”

The gift, announced virtually by the University on February 25, 2021, comes to Mount Allison from the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation, along with those from Lassonde’s daughter Julie Lassonde and son-in-law Michael Gibbens (MtA Class of ’92).

PLassondeSchoolwordmark_webIn recognition of this new investment and commitment to arts education, Mount Allison has announced the naming of the Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts.

“Mount Allison’s deeply-rooted history of Fine Arts, and the magnificent facilities of the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts, are a tremendous springboard for the future,” says University President Dr. Jean-Paul Boudreau. “The gift from the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation is both their philanthropic support and their extensive connections into Canada’s arts community — these together will be a catalyst for an explosion of connectivity between leading artists, galleries and museums, and Mount Allison’s Fine Arts students and faculty.”

LassondesSchool_PCCA_exterior_webThe new funding will launch a number of new projects and programs within the School, designed to enrich the student-artist experience at Mount Allison. This includes new entrance and upper-year scholarships; internship opportunities; and a dynamic artist-in-residence program, giving students direct access to notable Canadian and international artists as part of their studies.

“The Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts will open an exciting chapter for Fine Arts at Mount Allison,” says Erik Edson, printmaker and head of Mount Allison’s Fine Arts Department. “Working with benefactors like Pierre Lassonde, Julie Lassonde, and Michael Gibbens, who have deep connections in Canada's arts community, will unlock experiential learning doors for our students. The experiences students get off campus will extend and deepen the associations they make between their art and the world in which they will find their artistic path. On behalf of the faculty and students, our great thanks to the Lassonde family.”

As part of the gift, several new Fine Arts scholarships have been established and will be available to students for September 2021.

  • The Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Scholarship — a $15,000 entrance award — will be available to an incoming Fine Arts student for the 2021-22 academic year. The award is named in honour of the late Claudette MacKay-Lassonde — an accomplished engineer, a trailblazer, a philanthropist, an advocate for opportunities for women in engineering, and both a lover of fine arts and a painter herself. Both Pierre Lassonde and his first wife, Claudette MacKay-Lassonde, graduated from Polytechnique Montréal and then from graduate school at the University of Utah. Together they co-founded the Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation before Claudette MacKay-Lassonde passed away in 2000.
  • The Gibbens Lassonde Scholarships, named in honour of Julie Lassonde and Michael Gibbens, will support both new and returning Fine Arts students. Two entrance awards, valued at $7,000 and $5,000 and five upper-year awards for achievement will also be available for the 2021-22 academic year. Both Julie Lassonde and Michael Gibbens are supporters of the arts. Gibbens is a past board member of the Canadian Opera Company, and Lassonde holds board appointments at both the National Gallery of Canada Foundation and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Julie Lassonde and Michael Gibbens say, “We value the distinctive experience students find at small liberal arts universities like Mount A — the small class sizes, the personal touch, and the unique hands-on learning that students get in their studio work at Mount A. We look forward to playing a role in extending the student experience by connecting the students and faculty at the Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts to leading museums and galleries across Canada.”


Mount Allison is home to Canada’s first Bachelor of Fine Arts program, established 80 years ago in 1941. The program’s alumni include some of Canada’s most notable artists, including Alex Colville, Mary Pratt, Christopher Pratt, and Tom Forrestall, as well as rising stars like D’Arcy Wilson (Class of ‘05) and Melanie Colosimo (Class of ’06), both selected as recipients for the 2020 Sobey Foundation Art Award.

Combining teaching with artistic practice, studio projects, and collaborations with community artists and arts organizations, the program also includes degree options in art history and the recently introduced new minor in museum and curatorial studies.

Mount Allison is also home to the Owens Art Gallery, the country’s first University art gallery, known for its collaboration with both the Fine Arts program and the wider community. Colville House and Colville Studio, dedicated to the life and work of Alex Colville who both studied and taught at Mount Allison, are also part of the University campus.


Pierre Lassonde is a noted collector of contemporary Canadian art. He is the past Chair of the Board of the Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec, as well as the past Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts.

As a businessman, Pierre Lassonde is perhaps most noted for his innovations in the financing of gold mining exploration, principally through both incarnations of Franco-Nevada Corporation.

Lassonde is an active and engaged philanthropist in both Canada and the United States in education and in the arts. His giving stretches from his two alma maters, Polytechnique Montréal and the University of Utah, to York University, the University of Toronto and to the Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec. The Pierre Lassonde Pavilion there is dedicated entirely to Canadian art. Lassonde maintains his connection to Polytechnique Montréal where he is now Chair of the Board.

Read more about Mount Allison’s Fine Arts program:

More information on new scholarship opportunities for Fine Arts students can be found at: Applications are currently open for the 2021-22 academic year. The scholarship deadline is March 1, 2021

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