Nanton: Jim Coutts can give us all a lesson in giving. Not necessarily in terms of the amount given but, in terms of attitude. According to Coutts, "You can't take it with you - I've spent 25 years building this up and I want to share it".
The gift Coutts has left to the the University of Lethbridge is valued at more than $2-million. It includes a quarter section of land just east of Nanton, which was his family's original homestead, including vast and varied gardens and restored buildings, as well as about 200 pieces of art which Jim collected himself.
A photo gallery courtesy of the University of Lethrbidge is available at: http://flickr.com/gp/ulethbridge/Jz07t9/
The gift of artwork made by Jim Coutts was featured recently in an issue of
SAM, (Southern Alberta Magazine), the University of Lethbridge’s community and
Coutts, a lawyer and the former secretary and advisor to Prime Ministers Lester
B. Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, has been a world traveler, which allowed him to
collect art pieces from around the globe -- most of it with a Canadian theme.
The 73-year old, who is unmarried and without children, bought the homestead
property, once owned by his grandfather, in 1988. He rebuilt the farm with with
a variety of gardens, restored native plant species and added or upgraded farm
buildings. His work has been a tribute to family struggles as pioneers in what
could , at times, be a very harsh environment.
After 25-years of rebuilding the homestead, Coutts told University officials,
"I want to make an outright gift, I want to live here the rest of my life and I
want to give it to somebody who will understand what it is and keep it going".
University officials said they would do all of that. Coutts goes on to explain,
"It was a natural fit and I've given it to really good people".
The University took possession of the homestead which is now the "Coutts
Centre For Western Canadian Heritage". It will be maintained by the University
as a living classroom for the study of history, artwork, ecosystems and
geography of the area.
Mr. Coutts spoke with Dori Modney of Country 95 news about why he made the
donation. The interview can be accessed below.