Vern and Clara Welker | Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The Downtown Saskatoon DTNYXE business group found the right way to honour their downtown Saskatoon greats by creating a program called LEGENDS DOWNTOWN. The idea is to bring colour to the district, awareness to their community pride, and gratitude to our honourees.

Reddee Properties and their tenants, Lululemon Athletica and Second Cup Coffee Co., donated space for the plaque to recognize these honourees, now providing a permanent home. It can be found on Lululemon’s wall at Second Cup’s patio. Station Studios handled the design and fabrication of the plaque. It can hold 32 honourees, and they don’t all have to be people. The general public are invited to nominate their Downtown Saskatoon greats for future recognition.

The most recent Legends are Vern and Clara Welker. The Welkers’ owned Vern Welker Men’s Wear (1948-1970). They were hard working, supportive and generous people. In 2009 Vern and Clara bequeathed the largest single donation received by the Saskatoon Community Foundation (SCF) to date. This gift to the community supports five local charities. The Welkers’ legendary legacy of this foundational gift generates pride for what can be vibrantly accomplished locally in Downtown Saskatoon. The new plaque celebrates the philanthropy of the Welker family as the SCF continues to build and grow the community off their generosity.

Clara died in 2009 at the age of 97 while Vern had predeceased her in 1996. They were married for 63 years and while they weren’t publicly known for philanthropy they supported many favourite charities, such as the Meewasin Valley Authority. The Saskatoon Community Foundation was taken aback by the generosity of a $2.9 million bequest to the endowment fund, which is still the largest single donation ever given to the Saskatoon Community Foundation. Their bequest created the Vern and Clara Welker Fund.

Annual disbursements from the fund are shared to benefit five local charities: Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, Saskatoon Community Clinic Foundation, Saint Paul’s Hospital, and the YWCA. Annual disbursements will depend on investment returns, but the fund means approximately $20,000 for each charity every year for the past decade.

The generosity of this gift and the unexpected manner in which it was left reveals the underlying humanitarian thread that stitches the social fabric of the prairie community together. The Saskatoon Community Foundation is honoured that the Welkers recognized the organization’s role in building a strong community.

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