Ian Stewart’s name will live on in perpetuity at the University of Victoria, this time with wife Gillian.
Last week UVic unveiled the new Ian and Gillian Stewart Varsity Weight Room, the latest facility to be named in the new $70 million Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities.
It continues a legacy UVic started when it named the previous weight room and recreation facility the Ian H. Stewart Complex in 1991, having purchased the building from St. Michaels University School. Most of the former Ian Stewart Complex was decommissioned in 2015, including the expansive weight room and squash courts. It led to a new donation by the Stewarts.
“I was happy to be involved originally because skill did not govern the usage of the facility,” said Ian, in front of a great number of friends and family at Thursday’s unveiling.
Despite graduating from the University of B.C., Ian Stewart has a long history with UVic. The retired lawyer earned an honorary doctor of laws degree from UVic as a former member and longtime chair of the board of governors for 12 years and helped set the course for Vikes Athletics and Recreation. He’s also an honorary patron of UVic and a recipient of the UVic Legacy Award in Sport as a builder.
With the help of his daughter Alex, Ian spoke at length about his and Gillian’s time in Victoria, and their relationship with UVic.
The couple has been actively involved with many charitable and philanthropic organizations. They left Victoria three years ago to live in Vancouver near their daughters and grandchildren, and to teach them “cribbage,” Ian joked.
“The only heavy lifting I did was picking up 200 scrapbooks while working for the final arts department here at UVic, they were heavy,” Gillian said.
The Ian and Gillian Stewart Varsity Weight Room is a section of the main floor weight room that can be converted into a varsity-only weight training space which is usually open to all students and daily community use.
While Ian and Gillian lauded the weight room’s ability for high-performance athletes to share space, training techniques and coaching with other members of the university and community, they were equally, if not more impressed with the work of CanAssist, the engineering lab that finds unique solutions through technology for people with disabilities.
“If you don’t know what they’re doing in CanAssist, you truly must visit,” is a sentiment both Ian and Gillian shared.
The naming of the varsity weight room space follows other community partners in supporting the CARSA building, which opened in May. The Peninsula Co-op Climbing Centre, Lynda and Murray Farmer Walk of Excellence, RBC Blue and Gold Room and UVic Alumni Association Spirit Section are all iconic parts of the 190,000-square-foot athletics and recreation facility.