“Integrity, commitment and service are the hallmarks of Wilfrid Wilkinson’s contributions to his community.”
Order of Canada citation, awarded to Wilfrid Wilkinson on May 3, 2007
Few people can look back at their career and see such a legacy of distinguished service as Wilfrid Wilkinson. The list of awards and honourable mentions are as varied as they are long; they culminate in the 1991 Award of Outstanding Merit of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in recognition of his “conspicuous and sustaining service to the profession” and the Order of Canada, bestowed in 2003, that honoured his years of charitable work.
In 1964, Wilfrid had grand ambitions for his newly founded public accounting firm in Trenton, assuming it would grow to include four, maybe five accountants one day. Today, there are three locations, in Trenton, Belleville and Kingston; a staff of over 100 people; a stockpile of technical and specialist knowledge that covers just about every industry and service; and an unparalleled reputation as a firm that excels in client relationships, ethical leadership and dedication to the local community.
Wilfrid affected many changes in the accounting profession as he worked to create Ontario’s leading regional firm, such as being a founding member of the Canadian Division of the National Association of Forensic Accountants in 1993. And while work/life balance was not the buzzword in the 60’s as it is today, Wilf was a trendsetter, blazing the path for future accountants who can now enjoy a rewarding and satisfying career that includes spending time with their families. Retired since 2001, Wilfrid has remained actively involved in the accounting profession, notably as the Canadian coordinator for the National Association of Forensic Accountants.
The number of local organizations that have benefited from Wilf’s involvement is a testament to his belief in the power of community service. A scout leader for years, Wilf has also been very involved in Rotary since 1962, so much so that he served as president of International Rotary in 2007-2008, an extraordinary accomplishment; he is only the 5th Canadian ever to hold this post. Among his other local contributions, Wilf sits on the board of the Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation and is Chairman of the Trenton Memorial Hospital Fund-Raising Committee, which is currently raising $7,000,000 to build a new patient-care wing and renovate the existing premises. He is also the co chair for the Loyalist College Foundation; in 2002, the College created the “Wilfrid J. Wilkinson Lecture Theatre” in recognition of his service to the community and the College.
Wilf would like to see the firm continue its commitment to helping the local community. And yes, following in his footsteps may seem daunting, after all, he helps raise $200 million a year to eradicate polio around the world; he participates in National Immunization Days (NIDS) in Kenya, Tanzania, India; has been a Health, Hunger and Humanity Program volunteer to India; and has been honoured by the Governments of Pakistan, Columbia, Italy and Madagascar. But Wilf wants people to find their own passionate causes; years ago, his wife helped create day-care programs when such a thing was just a novel concept for families. “It doesn’t matter what you do,” he says. “It’s what you believe in.”
Tough shoes to fill certainly, but Wilkinson’s talented team are up to the task left to them by this most accomplished of founders.