"You’ll be the same person you are today in five years, except for the people you meet, the places you go, and the books you read."
If there’s anyone who understands and appreciates the transformative power of the printed word, it’s Peter Legge. A life-long reader, enthusiastic book collector, successful magazine publisher, much-published author, and acclaimed inspirational speaker, the longtime Coquitlam resident is a firm believer in the power of the printed word to change individuals and, through that change, transform the world. “There’s certainly much wisdom in the old saying, ‘You’ll be the same person you are today in five years, except for the people you meet, the places you go, and the books you read,’” Legge says.
He made the comment in the spring of 2009 while signing the official documents to establish a fund that will go a long way towards encouraging and supporting his beliefs about the importance, not only of reading and writing, but more importantly of the skill that makes them both possible: literacy.
Launched with $20,000 raised at the Peter Legge Charity Golf Classic, the Peter Legge Literacy Endowment Fund is designed to provide enhanced education and literacy opportunities for students and their families in School District 43. It’s one of almost two dozen funds administered by the Coquitlam Foundation.
“Both the Foundation and Mr. Legge share a strong commitment to literacy,” Foundation Chair Colleen Talbot said during the document-signing meeting. “Through Mr. Legge’s generosity, the Coquitlam Foundation will now be able to support the drive to improve literacy throughout our community.”
Legge is certainly no stranger to the charitable business of philanthropy. Indeed, as Chairman and CEO of the largest independently owned magazine publishing company in Western Canada, Canada Wide Media Limited, he makes good use of his prominent position in the business community to further the many causes in which he believes. Over the years, Legge has lent his support to many worthwhile organizations, from the Variety Club and the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation to the Vancouver Police Foundation and the John Howard Society. Legge is also the honorary chair of the Coquitlam Foundation.
When speaking in public, his presentations are based on his everyday experiences as a community leader, husband, father and CEO. In addition, he has published 11 books including The Runway of Life, Make Your Life a Masterpiece and The Power of Tact. His books have motivated thousands of people towards positive change.
Toastmasters International voted Legge its "Golden Gavel Award Winner" and "Top Speaker in North America," and both the National Speakers Association and the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers have inducted him into the Speakers Hall of Fame.
Simon Fraser University has honored him with an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. In December 2006, the Peter Legge Philanthropist of the Year Award was introduced by the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. Fittingly, Legge was the first recipient. In June 2008, the Order of British Columbia, the province’s highest honour, was presented to Legge for his life-long commitment to serving the community.
In establishing the Peter Legge Literacy Endowment Fund, Legge noted that the Canada Council on Learning has reported that, because of demographic conditions, population growth and immigration patterns, Canada is predicted to be home to more than 15 million persons aged 16 and older who possess skills below the internationally accepted standard of literacy required to cope in a modern society.
Similarly, the Conference Board of Canada reported in January 2010 that the country’s adult literacy rate can only be described as poor. "Four out of 10 Canadian adults lack the literacy skills necessary to be fully competent in most jobs in our modern economy," a Conference Board report stated.
Overall, Canada ranked eighth in low-level adult literacy, but no country got an A grade. "There are no superstars on this indicator," the report found, noting that even top-ranked Sweden recorded an adult-low-level literacy rate of almost 30 per cent. The worst-performing country was Italy, where eight of 10 Italian lacked everyday literacy skills.
For a man who has dedicated so much of his life to helping and inspiring others, it only makes sense, then, that Peter Legge would feel the need to do something about these disturbing figures—something for which all of Coquitlam can certainly be thankful.
When your heart tells you it's time to help people in your community, but your head doesn't know where to turn, it's time to look to the Coquitlam Foundation. We're your hometown partner in philanthropy, helping you help your neighbours through charitable initiatives as simple as a one-time donation to our general fund or as profound as the establishment of an endowment fund. Look to the Coquitlam Foundation when you're looking to help.