Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Victoria Stuart

Not only did Victoria Stuart, Class of 1975, have law school on her mind when she first started her undergraduate degree in political science at Dalhousie University, she knew exactly what kind of law.  

“Absolutely, I knew it when I was in high school. My parents rented accommodation from the owner of the duplex. I started reading real estate ads, and I wondered, ‘How does one buy real estate? How do you do the financing? How do you collect the rents?’ By the time I graduated, I could tell you the appraised value of the houses where I lived.”  

Today of course she works on large, sophisticated real estate deals, as a counsel at Gardiner Roberts in Toronto, focusing on securities, corporate finance and commercial real estate. “Land and history are very related in Nova Scotia. And I love history. 

She did so well in her political science degree one faculty member tried to steer her on a path of graduate school. “In my third year, a noted Canadian history professor asked me what I was going to do, and I said law school. He definitely wanted me to go to graduate school and said, ‘If you insist on going to law school, at least choose an academic one.’ And U of T Law was acceptable,” said Stuart with a laugh. 

To cover her tuition of about $500 back then, she used her savings, and lived as a don in a women’s residence. She remembers she and her classmates being among the most outspoken against raising tuition fees then to expand the LLB program, and they made presentations to U of T’s Governing Council. 

“We were given assurances there would be assistance for low-income prospective students, but there was a good crop of us who wouldn’t have qualified for assistance. So as U of T progressed, I expressed my historic concerns to Dean Ed Iacobucci and he assured me student financial aid and student services had improved. And with matching at the time by the Boundless program, the case for supporting the Campaign for Excellence without Barriers was extremely well done.” 

Her gift of $1000 to support student financial aid and the student experience is the latest gift in 35 years of giving to U of T, where she also served as a long-time board member of U of T’s Victoria University. 

“My husband and I give to our church, to health charities, and to international causes. We give to the hospitals who help keep us alive,” said Stuart with a chuckle. “But first and foremost, and from the very beginning, it’s always been to our universities that made a difference. Because without education, I wouldn’t be able to give. It’s very easy to connect the dots.”