Stuart (Stu to his close friends and relations) Thomas Robson was born in Vancouver and enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Point Grey. He made lifelong friends at Queen Mary Elementary School and Lord Byng High School, many of whom accompanied him to UBC in the fall of 1958.
In high school, Stuart was the president of the student council, played basketball and rugby, and was a leader in the Boy Scouts and YMCA. At UBC, Stuart studied history and philosophy, and continued to be active in student life. In his first year, he was a Frosh Council executive and a member of the Booster Club. For two years, he handled publicity for the Men’s Athletic Association, and in his third year, he did the same for the World University Service Committee where he met his future wife, Wendy Moir. That same year, he was a charter member of the Intellectual Stunts Committee, which gained notoriety by literally crashing an Annual General Meeting of the Student Council with a Sherman tank, capturing the incoming and outgoing presidents, and declaring a coup to spread chastity and virtue.
In his final year at UBC, Stuart was Chair of the World University Service Committee and a member of the Canadian University Service Overseas Committee, as well as the now-infamous Intellectual Stunts Committee. In 1962, that committee pioneered the bed race by pushing a bed from the Peace Arch to campus – a distance of 70 km! The aim was to encourage book donations overseas. They hoped for 500 books but ended up with over 7000, and bed-pushing became a nationwide craze.
Stuart graduated from UBC in 1962 with an honours degree in history, plus an athletic letter and a membership in the Sigma Tau Chi honorary fraternity for his many services to the university. Stuart won the 1962 Rhodes Scholarship for British Columbia for his “academic ability, interest in sports, character, and leadership qualities” and travelled to Oxford to study European history.
In 1965, Stuart and Wendy were married after Wendy’s graduation from law school. Stuart obtained his D.Phil in history from Oxford in 1966. He was hired by Trent University, and the couple moved to Peterborough, ON, where they welcomed daughters Jennifer and Kate. At Trent, Stuart published work on German history and the world wars, including a highly acclaimed textbook, The First World War, but his passion was teaching. He adopted the Oxford model of two-person tutorials, and so taught upwards of 40 hours a week. He won several major teaching awards, including that presented by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and the Trent University Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching. Stuart inspired and mentored a new generation of scholars, authors, and teachers.
In 1991, Stu was devastated to lose Wendy to cancer not long after she had been elevated to the bench as an Ontario court judge. In 1992, he married Mariel Grant, a fellow Oxford graduate and history professor at the University of Victoria. Daughter Molly, born in 1999, was his self-proclaimed retirement project, but Stuart continued to teach courses at the University of Victoria after the family moved back to BC in 2001. Despite difficult health challenges, Stuart always maintained a positive attitude, a love of sports, a deep interest in world affairs, and his wonderful sense of humour. He relished life and was proud to see his three daughters grow into strong, independent, successful women. He considered himself a truly fortunate man and we were truly fortunate to call him a friend.