$19M for Shawnigan school from communications icon

Shawnigan Lake School has received $19 million – the largest single gift in the history of Canadian independent schools – from former student and captain of the Canadian communications industry Jim Shaw, and his wife, Kathryn.

"This is a truly monumental day in the history of Shawnigan Lake School," said Headmaster David Robertson. "We have been fortunate to enjoy a wonderful relationship with the Shaw family for many years, but this commitment by Jim and Kathryn secures Shawnigan’s place as one of the top independent schools, not only in Canada, but anywhere in the world."

A 1977 alumnus, Shaw and his wife "have forever altered the future of Shawnigan Lake School," according to a statement on the institution’s website.

The $19 million comes as part of Shawnigan’s $40-million Building on Strength campaign.

Coinciding with the School’s Centennial year in 2016, this ambitious plan aims to give Shawnigan a firm foundation as it enters its second century.

The campaign includes a $25 million capital goal that will reenvision its iconic main building as a learning commons, and $15 million designated to enhance the school’s endowment. To date, more than $32 million in cash and pledges has been raised, the website said.

Of the Shaws’ gift, $11-million has been allocated toward capital projects, including the construction of a centennial library which will be the centerpiece of the learning commons, equipped with the latest in educational and technological advancements, including an immersive simulation room and multi-functional, adaptive study areas while reflecting the school’s sylvan surroundings.

The remaining $8 million comes in the form of a donor-managed fund that will see $500,000 in annual support provided for the Shaw Family Scholarships. The scholarships are a vital component of Shawnigan’s overall financial assistance program that offers much-needed funding for the 25 per cent of the school’s students who receive support each year.

Shaw created the scholarships in 2004 with the plan of helping five students on a yearly basis. With this new commitment, the Shaws will be able to assist up to 20 students annually.

After graduating from Shawnigan, Shaw went on to a career as CEO of Shaw Communications Inc. Both he and his wife maintain regular contact with the school.