“It’s my motto to be gracious in victory and defeat . . . in this case I won,” deadpans Dr. David Wonham in resisting the final temptation to publicly lampoon the City of Windsor in the wake of a satisfactory ending to a war of words, lawyers and political pettiness that (sit down for this) lasted one quarter of a century.
I’m referring to the glorious occasion of the official opening of the Chimczuk Museum on February 18, 2016, when Mayor Drew Dilkens actually mentioned Dr. David Wonham twice in his speech.
The good doctor was there to donate a framed collage, costing $700 out of his own pocket, that included the original hand-written will of Joseph Chimczuk, bequeathing $1 million to the city upon his death on December 2, 1990.
Never mind that Wonham felt compelled to ask the City Solicitor if he could show up on the occasion, or that not a whisper was uttered recognizing the corporation that he heads, Chimczuk Museum Inc., and the critical part it played to ensure that Chimczuk’s name was attached to the exterior of the museum building at 401 Riverside Drive West.
The city still hasn’t really acknowledged the corporation exists, let alone the legality of the Chimczuk Museum trademark, which Wonham acquired in 2006 from the Canada Intellectual Properties Office after he and a handful of other Chimczuk Inc. directors got fed up waiting for the city to act upon the will.
There is not nearly enough space here to delve into all of the twists and turns of this saga. The overriding point is this — the original donation of $1 million accumulated interest and soared to $3.3 million over 25 years. When combined with a $2 million grant from the Government of Canada’s Cultural Space Fund and $400,000 or so from the city, the funds were used to renovate the ground floor of the Art Gallery of Windsor and convert 11,000 square feet into the long-coveted museum space the city deserves.