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World’s largest permanent collection of Yousuf Karsh portraits now resides at CHEO
This afternoon Estrellita Karsh, wife of famed photographer Yousuf Karsh, was on hand at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) for a special event to celebrate her latest donation. Mrs. Karsh has donated 30 Karsh portraits and when added to the 20 portraits that are already on display at the hospital, the CHEO collection has become the largest permanent collection of Karsh photography in the world.

Today’s gift continues the Karsh’s long history of helping CHEO. In 1995, Mr. and Mrs. Karsh helped CHEO’s Research Institute by establishing an endowment fund for the Solange Gauthier Karsh Laboratory, in memory of Mr. Karsh’s first wife. Over the years Mr. and Mrs. Karsh also gave CHEO a sculpture, Russian dolls, and artwork for the enjoyment of its young patients.

In 2005 Mrs. Karsh made the first donation of the legendary photographer’s portraits and during the initial unveiling, the CHEO Emergency department was renamed The Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Emergency Department.

In 2008, Mrs. Karsh established the Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Visiting Professorship in memory of her late husband. The Karsh Professorship provides CHEO medical staff opportunities for the exchange of medical knowledge and ideas at the highest level.
The Karsh portrait collection at CHEO is part of a generous legacy gift to CHEO from Mrs. Karsh and her late husband Yousuf Karsh, who was an internationally acclaimed photographer for much of the twentieth century. Mrs. Karsh’s ongoing support also includes provision for patient care, staff training and education, equipment and technology, family support, and program development for The Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Emergency Department. This on-going support helps CHEO provide the children and youth of our region with the very best pediatric emergency care for generations to come.

Subjects of the Karsh portraits at CHEO include highly-acclaimed artists, authors, political leaders, athletes, scientists and medical pioneers, whose contributions had a far-reaching impact on the world around them.

The photographs will be on permanent display in a hallway close to“The Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Emergency Department” where thousands of young patients, families, staff and visitors will enjoy them for years to come.

Now, the Karsh’s love for young people and their strong commitment to CHEO will live forever in The Yousuf and Estrellita Karsh Emergency Department. The following words were written by Estrellita Karsh:

Throughout his life, my husband, Yousuf Karsh, remained grateful to his adopted land of Canada. Remembering his traumatic early years during the Armenian Massacres, he revelled in the “sunshine of freedom” of Canada - the country which sheltered him and offered him many opportunities.

“It is rarely possible,” he wrote, “to repay directly those who have rendered us great personal kindnesses…for I do not believe that time ever passes. Nature does not often collaborate to permit simple repayment, whether the debt is from son to father, from soldier to comrade, from pupil to master, or from citizen to country. We may never be able to pay directly for the gifts of true friendship, but pay we must, even though we make our payment to someone who owes us nothing, in some other place, and at some other time.” So, it is fitting that, from the little boy of nearly a century ago who never had a real childhood, should come a legacy to the children of today, ensuring compassionate care when the need is most urgent.

I am proud and happy that Yousuf and I are privileged to begin to pay the gift of friendship – albeit “in another place and at some other time.

For more information please contact:

Len Hanes
Director of Communications CHEO Foundation
(613) 737-2784
Sylvie Corbin
Director, Major Gifts CHEO Foundation
(613) 737-2781
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