Obituary: Ian H. Stewart, politician, auto dealer, huge friend of UVic

Ian H. Stewart, Victoria lawyer, businessman, politician and generous community benefactor, died in St. John Hospice in Vancouver from heart disease Tuesday. He was 84.

Stewart had moved several years ago to Vancouver to be close to his two daughters and four grandchildren.

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His Victoria legacy involves business, law, politics and being a huge friend to the University of Victoria.

He was on Victoria city council, an owner of Victoria’s Honda dealership, a director of numerous companies.

At UVic, buildings and a graduate scholarship in religious studies are named after him.

Stewart was one of those rare people who combined a wide range of talents and interests with leadership abilities, said UVic president Jamie Cassels. “Ian helped guide the university through a time of momentous change and growth. In addition to Ian’s incredible talents and generosity that greatly benefited UVic, he was a personal mentor to me and so many others.”

Ian Hugh Stewart was born in China, part of his family’s third-generation to be born there.

His mother and father were killed after the Second World War in a hijacking, and he and his brother and sister came to Canada.

He was educated and boarded at Vancouver College where he was an accomplished athlete.

His athleticism carried into adulthood, enough to see him play with the B.C. Lions in the late 1950s.

Stewart attended the University of B.C. where he earned his law degree. He was called to the B.C. bar in 1961 and practised until 1979.

Shortly after graduating from law school he moved to Victoria where he established a practice.

From law he moved into business. He was an owner of Victoria’s Honda dealership and would later sit as president of the B.C. Automobile Dealers Association.

Stewart was assistant secretary of Rogers Communications Inc. until 2003. He served with other Canadian companies, including as president of Appin Investments Ltd., as chairman of Advanced Economic Research Systems, Inc., and as a director at CanWest Gas Supply and at Yorkshire Trust Co.

In 1966, Stewart was elected to Victoria city council and his interest in politics saw him act as adviser to numerous provincial politicians over several decades.

But his 12 years on UVic’s board of governors became a personal standout.

Stewart was instrumental in establishing UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society. The Ian H. Stewart Graduate Fellowship, established in 2004 for students who wish to pursue studies at the centre, is a reminder of his support and commitment.

He never lost his interest in sports and played a major role in UVic’s purchase of the former St. Michaels University School Athletic Centre, The Racquet Club. It was later named the Ian H. Stewart Complex.

The weight room at UVic’s new Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities was named for Stewart and his wife: Ian and Gillian Stewart Varsity Weight Room.

In 2009, Stewart was presented with the Legacy Award for Sport to recognize his lifetime commitment.

Stewart is survived by his wife Gillian, two daughters Alix Cameron and Susie Stewart and their husbands Simon Cameron and Mark Dunn, and four grandchildren, Max, 17, Sophie, 14, Will, 13 and Sam, 10.

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