A story in celebration of National Philanthropy Day

Jamie Snider comes from a long line of community builders.

His family has contributed to life in both Waterloo and Ontario since the 19th century, when his great-great-grandfather, E.W.B. Snider, helped to bring hydroelectric power to the province. In the 1950s, his grandfather, A.M. Snider, served as the first chairman of the Ontario Water Resources Commission. His father, Donald Snider, sat on Waterloo’s city council in the 1960s and his mother, Mary Snider, was a longtime volunteer with the Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital (now Grand River Hospital).

The Sniders were also accomplished professionals who ran and built successful businesses in the region. As president of the Sunshine Waterloo steel manufacturing company, A.M. Snider was approached to bring his expertise to the founding Board of Governors of what would become the University of Waterloo. His efforts helped to shape the University as we know it today.

Waterloo marked its 60th anniversary last year. To honour this milestone, Snider decided to pay tribute to his grandfather with a memorial scholarship in the Faculty of Engineering.

Jamie Snider“My grandfather was a very influential person in my life,” says Snider. “I have fond childhood memories of riding with Grandpa in his Cadillac, down to the factory. He was a very good man who cared deeply about his family and the community.”

As a founder of the University, A.M. Snider understood the important part it would play in shaping both the region and the nation. He embraced the vision of co-operative education, designed to train the highly skilled engineers that Canada needed after the Second World War. This training included education in the arts and humanities to help the next generation lead a new technological era.

Last month, Snider made a gift that aligns with that vision: a second scholarship in the Faculty of Arts, in memory of his late mother, Mary Snider.

“She just loved the idea of the University and the diversity it brought to Waterloo,” he says. After moving to the region to marry Snider’s father, she became a champion of local cultural organizations including Waterloo’s Little Theatre and the nearby Stratford Festival.

“Arts and literature were part of her life,” says Snider. “She did everything in her power to instill that appreciation in me, although my love turned out to be athletics. Still, she would be very pleased that a Waterloo arts student is having a portion of their tuition paid by her scholarship.”

Snider now coaches women’s rowing at Yale University, where a boat and a racing cup have been named in honour of his contributions to both the women’s and men’s programs. (In the last 20 years, he has been on the staff that has captured numerous Ivy League and national championships as well as wins at the Royal Henley Regatta in England.)

“At Yale, I see a lot of giving back from graduates,” he says. “With my gifts to Waterloo, students will get a start they might not have otherwise. My wish for them is to have four glorious years of university life and then set out to change the world, knowing that there are people who care.”

Snider is looking forward to establishing a third scholarship in honour of his father, Donald Snider. As a founding partner of the firm SRM Architects (which receives accolades in the region today), he contributed to the University by designing a number of buildings on its main campus.

“You think back to when the school was established,” Snider says. “The founding members of the University wouldn’t believe the size and scope of it now. It’s been a phenomenal 60 years and I can only imagine what the next 60 will bring.”

Banner photo of A.M. Snider, courtesy of Special Collections and Archives

Profile photo of Jamie Snider, by John Lapides