For Now and Forever: Healing, Gardens and the Gift of Endowment


For Now and Forever: Healing, Gardens and the Gift of Endowment

Murray Hunter

If you were to visit the Cody Centre halfway house today, you would see a beautiful rock at the foot of a tree planted by the Julia Hunter Fund inscribed with a powerful sentence:

“We believe that out of human suffering may come healing, out of death comes new life.”

The tragedy of his daughter Julia’s sudden death devastated Murray Hunter, but a desire to heal and help others was born.

“First thing I did was call the Foundation,” says Murray, “I spoke to President & CEO, Martha Powell, and she suggested that the fund should have a narrow focus. I liked gardening, so I thought if I focused on that, I could start the healing process.”

Since its creation in 2005, the Julia Hunter Fund has helped fund a number of initiatives across London. From planting a tree at St. Leonard’s Cody Centre, to developing a garden for Banting House National Historic Site, Murray’s green thumbprint can be seen throughout our community.

To Murray, though, it’s not always just about having ideas and starting projects - it’s also about how you implement them.

A few years ago, Murray decided to begin the Gardens4Bees project - an initiative to plant pollinator gardens to support the struggling bee population.  

“The bees were in trouble a few years ago, so we started planting pollination gardens,” says Murray, “We wanted to infuse our overall motto into each one: Design. Culture. Community Development. Environment.”

The St. Paul’s Cathedral pollination garden is a perfect example of Murray’s commitment to thoughtful and meaningful design.

Murray Hunter

“At the base of their electronic sign is one of our gardens, and even in winter you can kind of see a curved spiral to it,” says Murray, “That spiral is based on something called the Fibonacci sequence of numbers.”

The Fibonacci sequence is a string of numbers that follow a pattern related to the Golden Ratio, a number present in many aspects of the natural world, from the layout of flower petals to the number of branches on a tree.

While this is just one example of the thought Murray puts into each of his designs, he also makes sure the Fund donates to the right projects, something the flexibility of LCF allows him to do.

The Julia Hunter Fund’s most recent project, a green roof by the sanctuary at Victoria Hospital, aims to help with healing in a way physicians can’t.

“I was visiting the hospital and decided to have a look at the sanctuary. I’ve spent a lot of time at others in the past,” says Murray, “The room itself was fine, but what you look out on is just gravel and plastic, and I was thinking ‘this is not helping folks.’ So I thought we needed something better.”

The Victoria Hospital green roof is just the first among many projects planned for the year, and he’s hoping that his portfolio will help LCF give in his name long after he’s passed away.

“In my will, I’ve designated a percentage of my estate to go into this fund,” says Murray, “And I’ve tried to, more or less, write the terms with my projects. The Foundation will keep giving on my behalf after I’m gone based on the kinds of things I’ve done in the past. I know it’s going to be used wisely.”

Nick Walling