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Order of Canada member Dr. Eric Jackman, president of Invicta Investment Incorporated, is seen here at his offices in Toronto Thursday Dec. 22, 2011.

Tim Fraser for The Globe and Mail/tim fraser The Globe and Mail

The Donor: Eric Jackman

The Gift: $5-million

The Cause: University of Toronto's Institute of Child Study

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The Reason: To help finance research into child development

When Eric Jackman was growing up in Toronto in the 1930s, his mother enrolled him, his brothers and sister in a program few families could afford at the time – nursery school.

The school was called St. George's School for Child Study and it did much more than instruct children. It also studied them and learned about child development.

Mr. Jackman recalled that his mother, Mary Rowell Jackman, "was so impressed with what it was doing for us, that she said it's too bad that parents that cannot afford this can't do it." She began a fundraising campaign that lead to the creation of what became the Bond Street Nursery, a pre-school program for less-privileged families in the city.

Mr. Jackman, 77, continued his mother's interest in child development, earning a master's degree in psychology at the University of Toronto and a PhD in human development and psychology at the University of Chicago where he did field work in the university's renowned Laboratory School. He returned to Toronto and became an advocate for early childhood education, winning numerous awards.

He is currently president of the Psychology Foundation of Canada and heads the Jackman Foundation, which also involves his brother Hal, a former Ontario lieutenant-governor; brother Edward, a Catholic priest; and sister, Nancy, a senator.

To further the cause of child development, the family foundation has donated $5-million to the University of Toronto's Institute of Child Study. The donation will help finance a new wing for the facility.

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"I just believe that the more we understand about how to raise children, how to educate them, the better off they are going to be," Mr. Jackman said. "We have to find out how to do it – how the brain develops, how kids grow up, and how to educate them best."

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About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More

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