About the Musical Instrument Bank

About the Musical Instrument Bank

Every 3 years, talented Canadian classical musicians compete for the chance to borrow fine stringed instruments from the Canada Council’s Musical Instrument Bank (MIB). The competition is intense and is decided by a jury of professional musicians and peers*. Musicians who win the competition are often invited to perform with their instruments on some of the world’s most celebrated stages.

The MIB includes over 20 magnificent instruments worth a total of over $41 million. These historically-significant violins, cellos and bows, ranging in age from the late 1600s to the early 1900s, were crafted by the world’s finest luthiers such as Stradivari, Gagliano and Pressenda. Find out more about the instruments.

The Canada Council funds, administers and promotes the MIB collection and competition. It started the MIB in 1985 through the generous legacy of $100,000 from the Barwick family of Ottawa. Since then it has grown steadily thanks to generous donations, loans, and purchases made with donated funds. Find out how to donate to the MIB.

Ric Heinl and his team of luthiers at Geo. Heinl & Co. Limited are responsible for restoring and maintaining the instruments.



“As a donor who has been involved with the Canada Council's Musical Instrument Bank for several years, I've been deeply moved to hear these historically significant instruments come alive in the hands of such talented musicians. It gives me great pleasure to know that the instruments are helping musicians to reach their true potential and thrilling audiences in concert halls around the world.” - Anonymous donor

Many generous individuals and foundations have made donations and loans of fine stringed instruments to the Musical Instrument Bank.

By loaning or donating an instrument, benefactors help Canadian musicians to reach a level of creativity and performance that might not otherwise be possible. It helps them push their creative boundaries and be competitive on the world stage. Best of all – it gives audiences the chance to experience great music performed on rare, magnificent instruments.

Donating instruments or funds is a powerful gesture… and a simple process: donations of cash or securities are managed together with the Canada Council's general endowment portfolio. Special tax advantages are available to donors who make permanent donations of instruments.

Justice R.D. Bell, Winnipeg
Andrew Shaw, Toronto
J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Montréal
Ontario Heritage Foundation (Leon Weinstein), Toronto
Estate of the late Edith Davis Webb
Barwick Family, Ottawa
W.I.M. Turner and the Brott Family, Montréal
Mrs. Miller, Toronto

Greg Cook, Guelph, Ont.
Estate of the late Pearl Palmason, Toronto

Tara Lapointe
Head, Prizes
Canada Council for the Arts
1-800-263-5588 ext. 3700