Born in British Columbia, Ms. Bonnie Buhler moved to Winnipeg when she was 12 years old. Growing up, she never entertained the thought of attending university. In her early adult life, as a single mother raising two daughters, she struggled on a legal secretary’s salary to make ends meet.
Things improved when she met her future husband and eternal best friend, John Buhler. He was also from a humble background, but over the years, they became a financial success story as they grew Buhler Industries, a leader in agricultural equipment.
Today, Ms. Buhler is one of the most transformational philanthropists in Manitoba. She has made an immeasurable impact in our community through her support of health-care services, cultural institutes and education. She is the driving force behind her family's charitable foundation and her knowledge and influence have contributed to several successful campaigns.
The Buhlers have given a stunning $60 million to various charities, and recently revealed their aspiration to donate at least $100 million in their lifetime.
Ms. Buhler shapes our communities through her support of numerous organizations, including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Manitoba Children's Museum, as well as Victoria General Hospital, Seven Oaks Hospital, St. Amant Centre, St. Boniface Hospital and Research Foundation, the Misericordia Hospital Eye Care Centre, and the Health Sciences Centre.
Ms. Buhler's first foray into philanthropy came as the result of a family health scare. After her daughter was diagnosed with endometriosis, she and her husband had to travel out of province for her treatment. Recognizing that most Manitobans do not have the means to travel to the Mayo Clinic in the United States, the Buhlers gifted the Health Sciences Centre with the equipment to treat endometriosis, initiating a legacy of philanthropy that continues today.
Ms. Buhler gives from the heart, and never seeks reward. Recalling her struggle to thrive as a single mother, Ms. Buhler established a scholarship at the University of Winnipeg to help single parents pursue higher education. Inspired by the joy of watching her grandchildren volunteer at the Children’s Museum, she financed significant renovations when it moved to its new location at The Forks. Honouring her mother and the health-care staff at St. Boniface Hospital, she established the unique Buhler Gallery, which presents rotating exhibitions by major Canadian artists to provide hospital visitors a refuge and solace. These are but a few examples of her philanthropy.
The University of Manitoba thanks Ms. Bonnie Buhler for her visionary and heartfelt support of our community and is proud to award a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, to someone who has impacted countless lives, now and for generations to come.
Bonita Lesley Buhler