Backgrounder: The Roger Bishop legacy gift

Fine Arts, Libraries, Humanities

The University of Victoria is today celebrating the legacy and generosity of the late Roger J. Bishop, the first head of UVic’s English department, and his wife Ailsa for their lifelong support of the arts, humanities and library at UVic. The estate donation of $1.6 million is the focus of the private Nov. 1 event at the University Club, with presentations by estate executor Brian Young and speeches from student recipients of the Ailsa and Roger Bishop Awards. 

Roger J. Bishop

Born in Vancouver in 1916, Bishop graduated from UBC in 1938 with a BA with first-class Honours in English and also obtained a UBC Certificate of Education before earning a Bachelor of Library Science and an MA from the University of Toronto. In 1941, Bishop began teaching English at Victoria College, still at that time in Craigdarroch Castle. He was head of UVic’s fledgling English department from 1945 to 1967 and, by the time he retired in 1971, had overseen the department’s move from Craigdarroch Castle to the Lansdowne campus and finally to UVic’s current location in Gordon Head. Throughout his academic life and even after his retirement, Bishop would send boxes of books to UVic Libraries’ Special Collections. He was influential in building the rare book holdings at the heart of the collections and was also very generous with many objects and artworks from his own collection. 

Bishop set up the Ailsa and Roger Bishop bursary for promising students in UVic’s English department. UVic’s proscenium stage, the Roger Bishop Theatre, is named after him. 

Bishop passed away in 2016, just 41 days before his 100th birthday. 

More about the Bishops 

Brian D. Young

Brian D. Young, estate executor, was a close family friend of the Bishops. He is a UVic alumnus, having graduated in 1985 with a BA in political science and in 1989 with a law degree. After articling with the BC Attorney General and a private firm in Victoria, he began private practice with a focus on litigation in civil and criminal law. Early in his legal career, he began teaching criminal law at Camosun College and served as a part-time lecturer in UVic Law. In 2004, he left legal practice and turned his focus to writing and films, currently working in Canada and Los Angeles on various projects. He has produced more than 15 films and, as a writer, has won a number of awards and competitions. He continues to teach part-time and resides in Victoria with his wife and two children. 

UVic Special Collections

The books, artwork and artifacts related to the Bishop estate and his legacy are housed in UVic Libraries’ Special Collections. A Dropbox media kit includes photos and detailed information about a selection of the objects in the UVic holdings, as well as historical photographs of the Bishops.


Media contacts

Tara Sharpe (University Communications + Marketing) at

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Keywords: donation, philanthropy, scholarship, special collections

People: Roger Bishop

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