Supporting the arts has been the most productive promotional activity our business has engaged in. It set us apart in the marketplace as a company that provided extraordinary benefits to our customers, our employees, and the communities we lived in."

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—William H. Loewen
 

William H. Loewen

2017 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts

Entrepreneur and philanthropist William H. (Bill) Loewen has provided leadership, direction and financial support to the performing arts for over three decades. A passionate music lover, he has a close association with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO), to which he and his wife Shirley have donated over a million dollars through the W.H. & S.E. Loewen Foundation. Other organizations he has supported include the Manitoba Opera, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Manitoba Choral Association, the Winnipeg Chamber Music Association, and the St. Norbert Arts Centre. As well, his company has provided payroll services to arts organizations across Canada free of charge.
 
Mr. Loewen was born in 1930 in Elkhorn, Manitoba, where he grew up. He trained as a chartered accountant in Winnipeg, and in 1968, founded Comcheq, which evolved into a leading national payroll service company.
 
An active volunteer with the WSO for nearly 40 years, Mr. Loewen established its Legacy Circle, provided ongoing donations to the orchestra’s endowment fund, and sponsored the annual Music at the Millennium free concert series. He has served as chair of the WSO, and received the organization’s Golden Baton award in 1998 in recognition of his many contributions over the years. In 1995, the orchestra musicians voted unanimously to make him an honorary member of the WSOthe only person to be so honoured. In 2009, Mr. and Mrs. Loewen were recognized as directors emeritus of the WSO.
 
Mr. Loewen spearheaded the transformation of Winnipeg’s historic former Bank of Commerce building into the multi-use non-profit Millennium Centre, and helped finance the restoration of Winnipeg’s Pantages Playhouse Theatre, designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
 
“Music has been particularly important to me,” he says. “I compare it to a magnet and iron filings: a magnet orders the filings in a certain space, just as music orders your frazzled mind beautifully at the end of the day.”
 
Bill Loewen is a Member of the Order of Canada. Among other distinctions, he has received the Manitoba Lieutenant Governor’s Outstanding Contribution to the Community Award, has been inducted into the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame, and has  received numerous national and provincial business awards.