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Music lover Jeff Cairns didn’t hesitate to support St. Catharines’ new Performing Arts Centre, now under construction.PETER POWER/The Globe and Mail

The donor: Jeff Cairns and family

The gift: $500,000

The cause: The Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines, Ont.

When Jeff Cairns was growing up in St. Catharines, Ont., he was surrounded by music.

His father, who was a lawyer, sung opera and his mother was a concert pianist. His grandfather was also a conductor and a composer.

Mr. Cairns played classical guitar for a while, but injured his hand in a fall that limited his playing ability. But the family's music tradition is carrying on with his son, Matthew, who is studying opera at the University of Toronto.

"As a kid, on Saturday mornings, I'd be hearing mom on the piano and dad singing in the living room," said Mr. Cairns, who is president of Charlesway Corp. Ltd., a private investment firm based in St. Catharines.

So when the city's new Performing Arts Centre launched a fundraising campaign, Mr. Cairns didn't hesitate to offer a $500,000 donation. The $60-million centre is slated to open in 2015 and will be located next to a new school of fine arts at Brock University.

The Cairns family has contributed to several other arts organizations over the years and Mr. Cairns' father, Roy, who died in 2011, donated $6-million to Brock in 2010.

"You don't do this to get recognition," Mr. Cairns said. "You do this because you believe in the cause."