Dr. Hugh Ernest Farquhar (1910-1984) was born in Truro, Nova Scotia and educated at Victoria Provincial Normal School (1930-1931) and Victoria College (1933-1934). Studying part-time, Hugh Farquhar received his BA and MA at UBC and his PhD from the University of Alberta. After teaching in elementary and secondary schools, Hugh Farquhar taught at Victoria Normal School and at Victoria College's Faculty of Education.
Hugh Farquhar was deeply involved with UVic from the university's very first days. In 1960, he was appointed to the Victoria College University Development Board and he also chaired the committee on the Academic Future of the University of Victoria. When the University officially opened its doors in 1963, Dr. Farquhar served as a professor in the new Faculty of Education. After an early retirement, he was asked to return as the Dean of Education in 1971. In 1972, UVic asked Hugh Farquhar to take over the role of President. During his two years as President, Hugh Farquhar brought direction and stability to the young university, focusing on the introduction of people-oriented disciplines such as law, child care and public administration. One of President Farquhar's most visible contributions to UVic was the planning and development of the University Centre and auditorium. His work made a valuable contribution towards UVic's current status as a leading comprehensive university.
Dr. Robin Farquhar, Hugh Farquhar's eldest son, followed his father's footsteps into the realm of university administration. The former President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Winnipeg (1981-89), Robin Farquhar served as President and Vice-Chancellor of Carleton University from 1989 to 1996.
Dr. Robin Farquhar, Carleton University's retired President and Vice-Chancellor, discusses his father's contribution to UVic's early years.
On finding his father at home with the proposed plans for UVic's campus: "These plans were really quite specific. They showed what is now Ring Road, the conservation areas with all the trees and the configurations of the original buildings. He was crouched on the floor in the living room and showing them to my mother, explaining his dream. As I go to the campus today and drive around I still see some of the basic features that he explained to her."
On the choice of his father as UVic President, 1972–1974: "They needed somebody who had deep roots in the place and who had pretty broad-based respect. I think they chose very wisely in asking my Dad to take on that role."
On his father's impact as President of UVic: "It was during his period that the institution actually moved beyond being a liberal arts institution to become a comprehensive University, although at a beginning stage. He established the School of Public Administration, he established the School of Law and the Child Care program. Now those were three things that went beyond the traditional Arts, Science and Education the institution offered at that point. That fundamentally changed the nature of UVic as a University."
On the establishment of the University Centre: "Of a personal interest to my Dad was his dream development of the University Centre. The plan was established during his tenure but it didn't get built, of course, until after his time as President was over. He felt that UVic needed to be an integral part of the local community and, in order to do that, it needed a location on campus where town and gown could come together. It was the reflection of his vision of what a university should be and how it relates to its community."
On the Farquhar Auditorium: "I was personally absolutely delighted when, after my father's death, they named the auditorium in the University Centre for him. I think that was a wonderfully appropriate gesture."
On his father's choice of PhD: "He called me when I was studying at The University of Chicago and said: 'You are doing a PhD in Educational Administration – what's that like?' I told him I was enjoying it and he then asked if I thought he should enroll in a similar program. The next thing I knew he had applied for admission to the University of Alberta, the best place in that field in Canada at the time. He received a scholarship in his second year as he did so well. I almost set a record in Chicago for getting through my PhD in two and a half years ... my father broke that record and got through the Alberta program in two years, so he did better than I did!"
On his father's influence on his own time as President of The University of Winnipeg and Carleton University: "He valued the contributions of others, regardless of their status. He was revered by UVic's buildings and grounds people, for example, because they knew that he respected their ability to do their job and was interested in their work and the challenges they were confronting. That was a very direct influence of his on me. I 'm not sure I was as good at it as he was, but I tried to be."
On his father's connection to UVic: "They wanted a President with deep roots in the place and he really did have them. He had been engaged with the institution as a participant on the Craigdarroch campus, the Lansdowne campus and the Gordon Head campus. He had been associated with UVic as a student, as a faculty member, as an administrator, as an alumnus. He was there as a BA student, majoring in math and had a French teacher who was a year older than him. She later became my mother, and so he married a Vic College person. All three of his sons are Vic College alumni and we all won the same scholarship there."
On his father's remarkable career: "His career as an educator was quite remarkable, in that he began it as the teacher of a one-room school in the Caribou and then eventually came to Victoria. Basically, he went from a one-room school in the interior to the President of a university. That isn't something one does anymore."
Consulting architect talking about original design of the University of Victoria
Robert Siddall, consulting architect for UVic, recommended three major (American) architectural and planning firms with multiple university planning experience for the consideration of the University Development Board. The firm of Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons of San Francisco was appointed as expert planning consultant for the new university: "At the time Bill Wurster said 'Plan for 10,000 students, but expect more.' There were only 800 students at Victoria College at the time! But once I realized what a long-term proposition universities are, the projection wasn't bizarre at all."
On the site for UVic: "It was a magnificent opportunity that might or might not happen to you in a lifetime if you practice architecture. It's the kind of thing that just doesn't happen. Think of another building or planning decision in the lower island that has been on that scale."
On the original Ring Road: "The circle only went around as far as the Student Union Building. That's as far as we had money to build initially. And it was two way traffic back then."
On the "quad": "There were complaints about its immense scale but it's not out of place now. It never seemed too big to us. It was made that size to be seen as the university's logical centre and in scale with the number of buildings and people that would eventually be using it."
On visiting campus today: "I walk friends, young and old, around and I'm sure they get weary of hearing me tell them what it was like at the beginning. But the campus is quite amazing. I take pride in it and have a feeling that the success of the design and the planning decisions that were made to keep the university to a smaller scale are a substantial part of what I consider to be a major success for the university. We made a good plan."