The Birks Family Foundation was established on 21 July 1961. The donors were the then existing Trusts of William Massey, John Henry and Gerald W. Birks, the three sons of Henry Birks, founder of Henry Birks & Sons Ltd. The three Trusts were merged into The Birks Family Foundation. Additional funds were donated by Henry Gifford, Victor Massey and George Drummond Birks as well as by the company Henry Birks & Sons Ltd.

Although the philanthropic interests of the three sons of the founder differed, for the first 25 years the Trustees gave careful attention to these interests. Now 40 years later, patterns of giving have changed requiring revised guidelines and thus prompting the issue of a Mission Statement.