A vision of the future

George A. Savoy
Lucie Bruneau
Paul Savoy
Harolde J. Savoy
George M. Savoy
Caroline Savoy

In 1921, George A. Savoy, a well known businessman and member of the St. Lawrence Kiwanis Club, was devoted to helping various charities one of which was " l'Aide aux infirmes ", for which Lucie Bruneau was president.

In the early forties, Lucie Bruneau was seeking funds for " l'Aide aux infirmes " devoted to helping young people with epilepsy. Wanting to build a residential school where they would learn a useful trade, she soon enlisted the help of the St. Lawrence Kiwanis Club, and George A. Savoy was appointed campaign chairman.

The clergy insisted that this institution remain essentially Catholic. It must be remembered that in those days the Church played a dominant role in Quebec society, and wielded considerable influence. Lucie Bruneau's work was, as were most charities, closely supervised by the clergy.

George A. Savoy was indignant to learn that the institution was to be reserved for young Catholic French Canadians, and strongly opposed such sectarianism. Still, this project was close to his heart and he promised his friends, who generously supported the campaign, that he would do everything in his power to keep the institution opened to all youth, without regard to race, religion, or language, and that the institution would be run by administrators from the business community with strong management experience.

Unfortunately, exterior pressure was too strong, and Lucie Bruneau was unable to make such a commitment. George A. Savoy had to request a refund of all funds contributed by his friends, and resigned as chairman of the fund-raising campaign.

By December 1942, World War II was raging. George A. Savoy's son, Major Paul Savoy of "Les Fusilliers Mont-Royal", was killed in the disastrous raid on Dieppe.

Rather than letting this tragedy crush him, he carried on with his project of building a non-denominational institution for young people with epilepsy.

Foyer Dieppe

On November 12, 1946, the project became reality, with chief justice Sévigny, as guest of honor for the inauguration of Foyer Dieppe. In his inaugural speech, George A. Savoy explained that the institution was a live memorial to his son, Major Paul Savoy, and to all the young men who died at war. Above all, though, it represented hope for hundreds of young people with epilepsy: the hope of receiving treatment specific to their condition while learning a trade that would allow them to become productive members of society. It was understood that the institution would be opened to all.

When George A. Savoy died in 1951, his son Harolde J., succeeded him at the helm of Foyer Dieppe and continued his father's work.

In the early seventies, the adoption of Bill on Health and Social Services radically changed the mission of the Foyer, which could no longer devote itself solely to epilepsy, and had to open its doors to people with physical or intellectual disabilities. Foyer Dieppe changed its name to "Centre d'accueil Foyer Savoy".

All the more reason for Harolde J. Savoy to develop support for the establishment, in 1971, of the Savoy Foundation, with a mandate to raise funds to be used for the sole purpose of financing research into epilepsy.

In 1977, Harolde J. Savoy died leaving the responsibility for both the foyer and the foundation in the hands of his son, George M. Savoy.

In 1988, upon the departure of the last of its residents, the Foyer Savoy closed down. The buildings and land were sold on behalf of the foundation.

Proceeds from this sale and the accumulated interests have allowed the Foundation to allocate substantial funds to research. Today, the Savoy Foundation is still the only Canadian organization devoted exclusively to raising funds for research on epilepsy.

For the Savoy's, epilepsy has become a family commitment. Since George A. Savoy, the will to respond to the needs of people with epilepsy, to facilitate their integration in the workplace and to promote research has been handed down from one generation to the next.

In October 1991, in order to keep the tradition alive, current president George M. Savoy invited his daughter, Caroline, to join the Foundation's Board of Directors.