In memoriam: Neil Alexander Swainson

Neil Alexander Swainson, a founding member of the Department of Political Science, died on Feb. 21. He had a deep and rewarding influence on the lives of many, not only at the University of Victoria but throughout the larger community. Until his retirement in 1982, his university career, including a role as chair of the political science department, paralleled the evolution of the institution from Victoria College to today’s modern campus. His study of the making of the Columbia River treaty, Conflict over the Columbia, remains a seminal work, and he was a key member of the BC project team that researched provincial politics of the 1970s. Neil’s teaching conveyed a lifelong commitment to his students in Canadian politics and public administration.

As the Department of Political Science steadily grew in size and challenges, his department colleagues could always rely on his innate sense of the right thing to do, and Neil was a reservoir of local lore for newcomers to the department. His wide interests and love of knowledge fed a partiality for the art of intelligent conversation that made him an amiable companion. Neil’s many contributions beyond the campus included director of the British Columbia Legislative Internship program and successive re-elections as an Oak Bay municipal councilor. His Clearihue office sometimes also gave clues to other pursuits with winter arrangements of his geranium cuttings arrayed on his windowsill. Above all, Neil was a gentleman in every sense of the word and he is remembered not only with respect but sincere affection.

Contributed by Dr. Norman J. Ruff, professor emeritus in political science

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Keywords: memori, neil, alexander, swainson

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