Dr. Fred and Ann Wurlitzer’s extraordinary donation of multimillion-dollar art collection to the Cowichan Public Art Gallery transforms the cultural landscape in the Cowichan Valley

Dr. Fred and Ann Wurlitzer

In a landmark philanthropic gesture, Dr. Fred and Ann Wurlitzer have announced the donation of their awe-inspiring art collection to the Cowichan Public Art Gallery.

This magnificent gift has an appraised value of millions of dollars and will undoubtedly shape the future of the cultural and economic landscape of Cowichan Valley.

The Wurlitzer Collection, painstakingly curated over a lifetime, includes an exceptional selection of Canadian masterpieces, with a portion of the collection featuring 32 paintings by the renowned Canadian Group of Seven, valued at an astonishing $3 million. Notable Canadian artists such as Jean-Paul Riopelle also grace this remarkable collection, adding to its significance.

Jock Hildebrand, President of the Cowichan Public Art Gallery, expressed his enthusiasm for this transformative donation.

“The donation and the new gallery will change the economics of the Cowichan Valley by bringing cultural tourism in a major way. This collection of master Canadian works will draw national and international visitors, making it a major economic engine for the valley,”

The positive impact of this gift is not limited to the gallery alone but is poised to ripple through every aspect of the Cowichan Valley.

The Wurlitzer Collection Donation is set to be rolled out over a five-year period to the Cowichan Public Art Gallery, contingent upon meeting specific milestones, including the commencement of the construction of a new $35 million extension to the present gallery.

This expansion project will create a suitable home for the Wurlitzer Collection in Duncan on an adjacent vacant lot to the current gallery, an option the gallery holds from the city of Duncan.

Dr. Fred Wurlitzer, a retired surgeon, found his true passion in life through the love he shared with his wife Ann and their collective admiration for the Canadian masters. Their dedication to preserving and sharing this extraordinary collection is a testament to their commitment to the cultural enrichment of the region.

This monumental donation is poised to become one the largest art donations ever in Western Canada, solidifying Cowichan Valley’s reputation as a hub for the arts and culture.

The Cowichan Public Art Gallery plans to utilize this gift to bring sophistication and cultural enrichment not only to art enthusiasts but also to the public and the extensive community of artists living in the valley.

The far-reaching effects of this donation will touch every facet of the Cowichan Valley, with accommodation and hospitality sectors standing to gain substantially from the influx of cultural tourism.

The impact will be nothing short of transformative, as the Cowichan Valley evolves into a cultural epicenter for the entire region.

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Dr. Fred Wurlitzer and friends with Lawren Harris painting (untitled – 1950)

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For further information and media inquiries, please contact: 
Jock Hildebrand, President, Cowichan Public Art Gallery
: president@cowichangallery.ca

(250) 215 2823

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About Cowichan Public Art Gallery
 The Cowichan Public Art Gallery, located and exhibiting in the heritage building, The Green Door, was founded seven years ago, and is committed to promoting and preserving the arts and culture of the Cowichan Valley.

The gallery provides a platform for artists and art lovers to come together, fostering creativity and enriching the community through its diverse exhibitions and programs.

The Wurlitzer Collection Donation is set to propel the gallery to new heights in its mission to bring art to the heart of Cowichan Valley.

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In addition:

The City of Duncan Mayor and Council voted in Nov. 2023 to approve an option for CPAG to purchase 135 Kenneth Street.

This means the lot is “reserved” for CPAG for 5 years, giving us time to raise the estimated $35 million to create an international-calibre art gallery. There is no cost to taxpayers & the lot will continue to provide parking for the foreseeable future.

click on the map below to see a larger version

click on the image below to see a larger version (street view: May 2018…not much different today)


What happens now?

Fundraise. Fundraise. Fundraise. Won’t it be a great thing to see $35 million spent in our community? We’re working with our Project Champions, advocating for capital investment. Our Gallery Champions are: MP Alistair MacGregor, MLA Sonia Furstenau & MLA Doug Routley.

We so appreciate the generous support from our community – cash, sponsorship, in-kind & advocacy. That’s what made it possible for CPAG to reach this milestone & reserve a location for what will be the largest art gallery on Vancouver Island.

Of course, no need to wait for the campaign, you can DONATE NOW. CPAG is a registered charity, contributions are tax deductible.


What’s the next big thing?

CPAG has developed an intimate art gallery in the Green Door Heritage Building in Downtown Duncan. Watch for news, dates & times for the upcoming exhibitions!!

Want to know more?  Click on the image below to see our latest Cowichan Gallery promo video