Thomas Shanks McPherson

Building through generosity

Original benefactor 

Thomas Shanks McPherson
Thomas Shanks

It all began with Thomas Shanks McPherson, the Victoria entrepreneur who believed that the "single most important factor in the progress of a city" was the growth of a university.

To ensure the survival of post-secondary education in Victoria, he bequeathed to UVic's predecessor, Victoria College, a legacy fund of $250,000 for the construction of the original university library. In addition, he bequeathed $2.5 million to the University Building Fund of the Victoria College. He also left his 50% share of the Central Building in downtown Victoria to the soon-to-be-established University of Victoria.

Planning for the new Gordon Head campus was underway by 1960, but McPherson unfortunately died in 1962, the year before construction of the library began. His cash bequest funded the development of UVic's library and when it opened in 1964, the university named it the McPherson Library in memory of this visionary and generous benefactor.