Dead men on campus

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Ian Vandaelle reports on Ryerson’s habit of naming buildings after dead folks

1 George Vari (Aug. 14, 1923- Dec. 9, 2010) Vari was a real estate developer, philanthropist and a civil engineer to boot. He and his wife, Helen, donated $5 million to the engineering and computing building project that was completed in 2004 and was subsequently named for him. He was also a big donor to U of T and York, but we won’t hold that against him.

2 Ted Rogers Jr. (May 27, 1933- Dec. 2, 2008) It seems like half of Ryerson is named for Rogers, but for good reason. He and his wife Loretta donated $15 million to Ryerson in 2007, and Rye subsequently obliged his gift by naming the school of management after the communications magnate. Upon his death, Rogers was listed as the fifth richest Canadian.

3 Howard Kerr (Dec. 25, 1900- Jun. 16, 1984) Kerr was Ryerson’s first principal and was a huge part of Ryerson even coming to be. Kerr helped convince the Ontario government that Ryerson was worth establishing, turning the old Training and Re-establishment Institute into the Ryerson Polytechnic Institute back in 1948. Kerr served as Ryerson’s principal until 1966, and later established a template for Ontario’s community colleges.

4 Eric Palin (?- Jan. 11, 1971) Palin was a electrical whiz, and helped train radar technicians for WWII. He helped launch a school of electronics near Ryerson’s predecessor, the Normal School, in 1944 and was an original Ryerson staff member. Palin was the director of Electric technology and RTA from 1948-58.

5 Eugene O’Keefe (Dec. 10, 1827- Oct. 1, 1913) O’Keefe is Rye’s patron saint of booze. His brewery sat at the corner of Victoria and Gould, now encompassed by the Heaslip Centre, and his former mansion is now the O’Keefe residence. O’Keefe was also noted for his donations to the Toronto Catholic community. He donated millions of dollars in his life, and helped build five Catholic churches in Toronto.

6 William Heaslip Heaslip was the Chair and CEO of the Grafton Group, a large men’s clothing retailer. Heaslip and his wife, Nona, were a frequent donors to Ryerson, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Opera Company.


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