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$3M Group of 7 collection highlights one of B.C.’s biggest-ever art donations

32 paintings by Canadian Group of Seven part of a package pledged to public gallery in Cowichan
Dr. Fred and Ann Wurlitzer are donating their multi-million dollar art collection to the Cowichan Public Art Gallery. (Submitted photo)

A multi-million dollar gift to the Cowichan Public Art Gallery is anticipated to shape the future of the cultural and economic landscape of Cowichan Valley.

Dr. Fred and Ann Wurlitzer are donating their art collection, which was painstakingly curated over a lifetime and includes an exceptional selection of Canadian masterpieces, to the CPAG.

A portion of the collection features 32 paintings by the renowned Canadian Group of Seven, valued at an astonishing $3 million.

Other notable artists, such as Jean-Paul Riopelle, also grace this remarkable collection, adding to its significance.


Jock Hildebrand, president of the CPAG, said he was delighted with the donation of such an incredible art collection.

“The donation and the new gallery will change the economics of the Cowichan Valley by bringing cultural tourism in a major way,” he said.

“This collection of master Canadian works will draw national and international visitors, making it a major economic engine for the valley.”

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.


Hildebrand said the 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.

He said the CPAG plans to use the art collection to bring sophistication and cultural enrichment, not only to art enthusiasts, but also to the public and the extensive community of artists residing in the region.

The Wurlitzer collection is set to be rolled out over a five-year period to the CPAG, contingent upon meeting specific milestones, including the commencement of the construction of the new $35-million expansion to the present gallery.

“The 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,” Hildebrand said.

“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.”

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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