IAN STEWART'S LEGACY FOR VANCOUVER COLLEGE
Our family is supporting Our Next Century because we believe Vancouver College is “Our School for Life”. Our Dad, Ian H. Stewart, attended Vancouver College in the 1940s, graduating in 1950. His life was positively impacted by his time here at College. Now his grandsons, Max Cameron (VC'18) and Will Dunn (VC'22) are benefiting from the legacy of those who came before and built this school. As the school reimagines itself for the next century, its promise to graduate men for our times will require more than ever excellence in academics, athletics, service and tradition. By supporting Our Next Century, we hope to pay this promise forward so future generations of VC students will enjoy the same benefits as our Dad and our sons.
Our Dad was born in Hankow, China in 1932. He was the third generation of a large Scottish, Catholic family living in China since the mid 1800s. In the summer of 1940, Dad’s family was evacuated from Hong Kong and came to Vancouver to wait out the war. After settling his family, Dad’s father, Hugh Grant Stewart, returned to Hong Kong to join the Hong Kong Volunteers Defence Corps. In December 1941, Hugh was captured at the fall of Hong Kong, and spent 4 years in a Japanese prison camp.
During the war, Dad lived in Kerrisdale with his mother, Hedwige, his sister, Pat and brother, Ron and his Aunt Madeleine and her son Noel. The family received scattered news from his father and other family members displaced by the war. They had to lean on their faith that he would be safe and would return home. It was a tumultuous time for Dad and it made a significant impact on the person he would become.
It was at this time that he and Ron were first enrolled as junior boarders at Vancouver College, Dad in Grade 4 and Ron in Grade 3. Pat attended Little Flower Academy. At Vancouver College they made many life long friends, had plenty of adventures and found themselves in a bit of trouble from time to time. Thankfully they could both turn on the charm to ease themselves out of sticky situations.
After the war, Dad’s father was repatriated to Canada and the family reunited in Vancouver. Although they dearly wished to remain here, career and responsibility called and in 1946 the Stewarts returned to Hong Kong, so Hugh could resume his career at Caltex. In July of 1948 while returning from a business trip to Macau, tragedy struck when Dad’s parents were killed in the first high-jacking of a commercial airliner. The children – Pat 17, Ian 15 and Ron 13 – were sent back to Canada to live with family.
The boys returned to Vancouver College as senior boarders to complete their schooling. Having been orphaned and displaced from their life in China, Vancouver College became their home. It provided them with guidance, discipline and support at a time when they needed it most. Although not a natural athlete like his brother Ron, Dad threw himself into sports and enjoyed the camaraderie of his teammates and the mentoring of his coaches.
This love of sport remained with him and became an inspiration throughout his life. Dad graduated from VC in 1950 and attended UBC, earning his law degree. He played football and became a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and in 1957, he was drafted to play for the BC Lions. He was called to the bar in 1960 and served over 50 years as a member of the Law Society of BC. He settled in Victoria where he worked as a lawyer, advisor to government and many well known Canadian corporations before going into private business as the owner of Victoria’s only Honda dealership. In 1966 he married our lovely Mum, Gillie, and they moved into our family home in Oak Bay to raise their family. Victoria became his new home and he used his skills to help strengthen the community where he could, most notably at the University of Victoria.
In 2013, our parents decided they wanted to be closer to our families, so they sold our family home in Victoria and moved to UBC. At that time, Dad’s eldest grandson, Max Cameron, was a grade 8 student at Vancouver College. Dad loved to come and watch Max play football and relive his time at VC. Tales of streetcars, climbing apple trees and baseball games were his favourites. He also had many fond memories of the Christian Brothers that taught him over the years, some tough lessons that built character but also an overwhelming sense of belonging.
In November 2016, Dad was inducted into the Vancouver College Hall of Honour for his contributions to the business community. He was nervous before his speech, but as we have seen time and time before, once at the microphone, sharing tales of happy days, it was hard to get him to sit down.
Dad passed away in June 2017 but not before learning that his second grandson, Will Dunn (2022) would attend Vancouver College in the fall. He was happy that he had taken the “right track” and had hopes that his youngest grandson, Sam, would one day follow in the family tradition.
Vancouver College provided a strong foundation for our father’s life. He leaves behind an incredible legacy – in business, community service and philanthropy. His time at College solidified his faith and helped him to become a man for our times. We hope that through our support of Our Next Century, Vancouver College will graduate more men like our Dad; men of substance, character and faith who will strive to make a positive difference to our community, province and country.
Susie Stewart and Alix Cameron - Parents of VC