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Angus and Jean Bruneau have had a life-long love affair with music, from high school musicals to church choirs.

David Howells/The Globe and Mail

The Donors: Angus and Jean Bruneau

The Gift: $1-million

The Cause: Memorial University

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The Reason: To create a choral centre at the school of music

Few people have deeper roots at Memorial University in St. John's than Angus Bruneau.

Mr. Bruneau founded the university's engineering program, created a unique co-operative education program, opened the Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering and served in various roles for 12 years.

His contact with Memorial remained long after he left his university positions in 1980 and went on to found electrical utility Fortis Inc., where he served as chief executive officer and chairman. He donated $1-million to the university in 2007 to help establish a scholarship fund called the Student LIFE Program. And last month he made another $1-million gift to the university, this time to the music school to create a centre for choral music.

Mr. Bruneau and his wife, Jean, have been singing for years, getting their start in high school musicals and joining church choirs in later life.

"When people come together to sing, they become a community of like-minded people," Mr. Bruneau said from the couple's home in St. John's. "This community has remarkable talent in choirs, in conducting and in singing."

The centre will finance research, internships and promote community choir projects. It will also offer internships and help choirs participate in national and international festivals.

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Mr. Bruneau, 77, added that his long ties to the university have helped him better understand the school's needs. "I have been able to see it from the inside for a period of time," he said. "At 77 years of age, something should have happened," he joked about his donations. "There should be some results."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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