Momentous Campaign Gift Elevates Canadian History for Students, Public, Researchers Across World

March 22, 2024

A headshot of Martha Wilder

Gift from Martha Wilder ’74 to Campaign for Momentous Change supports experiential learning, revitalizes heritage space, and digitizes Canadian history material in Trent Archives

A transformational gift from a Trent alumna to Trent University’s Campaign for Momentous Change will enrich students’ understanding of Canadian history through experiential learning, revitalize Trent’s architectural heritage, and provide researchers from around the world with improved access to a treasure trove of materials in the Trent Archives. 

The gift from Campaign Honorary Champion Martha Wilder ’74 is three-fold: Creating an endowed fund to support Canadian history projects and academic courses, reimagining an architecturally significant space on campus, and digitizing archival material. 

“Thanks to this thoughtful and generous gift, Trent University will elevate Canadian history for students, the public, and researchers across the world,” says Sherry Booth ’98, associate vice president of Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement. “Early plans are already underway to offer students, alumni, and community members tours through sites where Canadian history was made. Our vision is to also breathe new life into K-House at Otonabee College, which will be known as The Wilder Place, to create a gathering space in the original architectural spirit of Trent. Our archives will also digitize irreplaceable materials, such as handwritten letters from author Margaret Laurence, making them available online and preserving them for generations to come.”

Wilder, a member of Trent’s Philanthropic Advisory Council, says she was inspired to support Trent so that the nation’s stories are never forgotten.   

"I am fortunate that I am able to support Trent University," says Ms. Wilder. "I am delighted to designate a gift to the Canadian Studies Department, the Archives and The Heritage Fund. Shared knowledge of our nation’s history helps to sustain our collective identity and familiarity with our heritage gives us a better understanding of our lives. Momentous change happens when you create a vision and work collectively with a willing spirit to succeed.”

Through the endowed Wilder Fund for Canadian History, two initial pilot projects are in the works: a video series highlighting the often forgotten or misrepresented figures who helped found the nation; and  anew academic course that includes tours through the places where history was made such as the battle grounds of the failed 1837-38 rebellions in Toronto, Niagara, and Montreal.

"The School for the Study of Canada is fortunate to have such generous support and interest in the work that we do,” says Dr. Heather Nicol, director for the School for the Study of Canada at Trent. “Without this support, we would not be able to offer so many amazing opportunities to our students to learn about Canada."

The gift also supports transforming the heritage space in Otonabee College, now known as K-House lounge, that offers quintessential Trent architecture. 

"With a cozy fireplace, updated furniture, and an enhanced outdoor patio layout, K-House will once again be a dynamic place to foster community," says Dr. Michael Eamon, co-chair of the University's Heritage Stewardship Committee. 

Digitization at the Trent Archives, meanwhile, will provide 24-7 universal access to materials such as an original proclamation related to British North America, militia lists, 18th century coroner inquests, and oral history recordings describing Canada’s early medicine and dentistry. 

“Researchers currently must decide if it’s worth it to travel to Peterborough (sometimes from another continent), book a hotel, and make an appointment to review our archives," says Karen Suurtamm, Trent archivist. "With digitization, researchers simply click a button. More Canadian stories will be told!” 

About the Campaign for Momentous Change

The $100-million Campaign for Momentous Change – the boldest campaign in Trent University history – will empower students, enable world-changing research, steward the University’s iconic architecture, and vitalize campuses. Launched in March 2023, the Campaign focuses on academic discovery, as well as the people and places at Trent’s campuses in both Peterborough and Trent University Durham GTA. Through the Campaign for Momentous Change, the University is fundraising for areas such as the Trent Fund to support student wellness, the Trent Lands and Nature Areas, the School of Education, School of Nursing, Faculty of Science, the Colleges of Trent, and the School of Graduate Studies. The Campaign also aims to recruit 500 new monthly Trent donors to provide sustainable and reliable support for students, research and learning spaces.  

About trent University 

One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA. 

For more information contact:
Olivia Flynn, Communications & Media Relations Officer, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 x6180 or oliviaflynn@trentu.ca  

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