Fanny Wedro, on Giving Back
Updated: Dec 13, 2018
By Monte Greenshields, Manager of Development
Image: Fanny Wedro (second from left) with friends at the Whyte Museum's Cascade Murals Unveiled event in October 2015.
Last month, I had the privilege of visiting Whyte Museum donor Fanny Wedro at her home in Calgary. Fanny and her late husband Leo, are long-time supporters of the Whyte. Beginning in the 70s they owned the Cascade Hotel, now part of the Mount Royal Hotel. When the Cascade required renovations, eight hand-painted murals were removed and donated to the Whyte Museum. They have been in the Museum’s care ever since. Here is our conversation:
Fanny, please tell me what brought you and Leo to Banff?
We were living in Edmonton and somehow Leo heard the hotel was for sale. He contacted the owner [Sam Schultz] for more information and eventually we bought the hotel in 1972 from Sam—on a handshake if you can believe it! For two years, I would take my daughter and every weekend we would drive to Banff to be with Leo. First we used to stay at the Mile High and then we rented a home in Whiskey Creek before eventually buying a home in Valleyview. Banff was very good to us financially and we made many life-long friends there—it was family. It wasn’t until the year 2000 when we had to move to Calgary for Leo’s health reasons.
Wadym Dobrolige (1913-1973), Skaters, 1955, oil, 68 x 138 cm, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Gift of Leo Wedro, Calgary, 1990, DoW.02.03.
Banff certainly is a wonderful place to raise a family. Outside of working at the hotel what other activities were you involved in?
For many years I was a member of the Soroptimist club and I was on the 'Ways and Means' committee (fundraising) we raised lots of money and we did a lot of good work.
Wonderful! That is a perfect segue into my next question – can you tell me your feelings or thoughts about giving to charity and why it is important to you?
I was born in the old country, my mother used to say when someone gives you a finger, you stretch them out a hand. Even though I am a Holocaust survivor, I came up from ashes, I am the only person left of my family—you must try to help others. I remember Mrs. Whyte [Catharine]—she was a wonderful lady, she used to look after people, the homeless and such. As I said, Banff was very good to us. So every year for Banff it is the Museum and the hospital. I cannot give thousands to everyone because there are so many people who need help, my God in Calgary there are so many, and of course I am a supporter of the Wedro Jewish Holocaust Foundation as well.
Lastly, can you tell us about your association with the Museum and why museums are important to you?
I love museums, what can I say? They are more than memory—it’s alive, it’s forever, it talks!
Donations are always gratefully accepted by the Whyte Museum. If you like, support the Museum and our programming with an Online Donation.