Ignat Kaneff

Iggy Kaneff
Affiliation: 
Donor; Fundraising Campaign Chair
Place of Birth: 
Gorno Ablanovo, Bulgaria
Department / Division: 
Student Centre; Kaneff Centre

Ignat Kaneff, CEO and chairman of the Mississauga-based Kaneff Group of Companies, is a strong believer in giving back to the communities that nurtured him, and the U of T Mississauga is among the institutions that have benefited from his philanthropy.                                                                                 

Kaneff, a Bulgarian immigrant, arrived in Canada in 1951 with five dollars in his pocket. In Canada, he learned the building trade and soon created his own construction company. His homes were among the first in the southeast corner of Mississauga, an area that was locally known as Erindale Woodlands. His success grew from there.

In 1976, Kaneff became acquainted with Desmond Morton, who later became Erindale’s principal, and Morton extended an invitation to visit the campus.

“I noticed that professors were carrying their books around in trunks,” Kaneff said. “There were no facilities to prepare for classes, and they needed one. I decided to help raise money to build one.”

Kaneff chaired the building campaign for the Kaneff Centre, which opened in 1992. It is home to social sciences faculty offices, the Blackwood Gallery and a large lecture theatre, as well as other classrooms.

Further, when Morton pointed out to Kaneff the need for a place for students to congregate, he took up the challenge of raising money for a student centre. Kaneff chaired the campaign for the Student Centre,  which opened in 2000 and is now a hub of student life on campus.

Kaneff also served as honorary chair of UTM’s Boundless fundraising campaign.

 “I was very proud to be able to help as much as I could,” Kaneff says. “We have to give our youngsters tools to be able to compete in the world today and I’m very happy to see them get the right facilities.”

Kaneff has watched the campus grow from 1,600 students to more than 16,000, and he continues to contribute to UTM fundraising campaigns.

“I am very proud to be part of the University of Toronto,” he says. “It is the pulse of Canada.”

Selected Awards:

  • Member, Order of Canada, 2016,

  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Community Living Mississauga, 2016, recognized more than 45 years of support for the organization

  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012,

  • Member, Order of Ontario, 2010

  • Honorary degree (LLD), University of Toronto, 1994, for service to the university

  • Order of Stara Planina, First Degree, 2002, Bulgaria’s highest civilian honour