Assiniboine Park Development
Winnipeg’s beautifully landscaped Assiniboine Park has been a focal point for family recreation since it opened in 1908. Family oriented entertainment has been a long-time tradition at the 283 acre park, which features winding walkways and bike paths, expansive green spaces, the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden, a miniature working train, a beautiful Tudor style Pavilion, English Gardens, a duck pond, the Conservatory and the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Each summer the park hosts a variety of free events. The Asper Foundation has been key in developing a permanent home for these events and in sponsoring, as well as supporting, other developments at the park.
The Lyric Theatre
Named in honour of the first theatre owned by Israel Asper’s father Leon in Minnedosa, Manitoba, the Lyric provides a permanent outdoor stage where the tradition of free family entertainment in Assiniboine Park continues. Partnering with the Canada/ Manitoba Economic Development Partnership Agreement, The Asper Foundation contributed $500,000 of the $900,000 required for the project. In addition, $250,000 was also raised through a public campaign conducted by The Asper Foundation.
Israel Asper’s vision for the Lyric Theatre was to serve as a place where families can enjoy wonderful entertainment in the natural beauty of Assiniboine Park. It was also a fitting tribute to a father whose life was spent sharing the joy of music and theatre with others.
The Lyric Theatre in Assiniboine Park was completed in the summer of 1999. The 4,000 square foot bandshell was built in the classic Tudor architectural style to complement the existing backdrop in the park. Each summer, June through September, high-calibre family entertainment is showcased on its stage. The performances themselves are generously sponsored by various business organizations, and many by The Asper Foundation and, in the past by, CanWest Global Communications Corp. Thousands gather to experience music ranging from classical and operatic to swing, jazz, dixieland, rock, comedy, dance and children’s shows — all for free.
Donation to Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s Imagine a Place Campaign
On March 23, 2012, The Asper Foundation announced a gift of $2 million towards the Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s Imagine a Place Campaign. Of the $2 million, $1 million has been designated in support of various projects within the Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s overall $200 million redevelopment plan, including the signature Journey to Churchill exhibit. The remaining $1 million is earmarked for a specific project within its redevelopment, namely the construction of the new Conservatory, where the gift from The Asper Foundation will be recognized through the naming of the Babs Asper Floral Garden.
“Our family is committed to building a better Manitoba and that includes having outstanding public common spaces such as Assiniboine Park. This gift is also a special way for us to honour the memory of our mother in a way that would have been near and dear to her heart”, said David Asper, Chairman of The Asper Foundation.
Fountain Dedication at Assiniboine Park
A number of years ago, Babs and Israel Asper installed a beautiful and ornate fountain in the backyard of their Winnipeg, Manitoba home. They brought the fountain from England and for years enjoyed its serene beauty. When their home was sold, they had the fountain removed because they felt that it should be enjoyed by all Winnipeggers and their visitors for many generations to come. Mrs. Asper thought the ideal place for the English fountain would be the English Garden at Assiniboine Park. She was thrilled when the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, the not-for-profit organization responsible for the operation of Assiniboine Park, agreed with her.
On May 17, 2012, a special dedication ceremony was held for the installation of the fountain in the English Garden. Manitoba is a province that revels in its 110,000 lakes. Nature and water are an integral part of the lives of its citizens. The fountain will undoubtedly give many people another place to rejuvenate themselves and celebrate beauty.