Alumni Profile: Peter Webster '60
Business Executive and Philanthropist
Fortunately for all those who benefit from his charitable endeavours, Peter Webster doesn’t need a great deal of sleep. Having been involved in over 30 not-for-profit organizations and 20 corporations, Mr. Webster has devoted countless hours to improving the lives of others.
Though not an athlete in his younger years, Mr. Webster dove into the world of sport. In the mid-1960s, he volunteered as the full-time manager of Canada’s National Alpine Ski Team and was part of a group that established the Ernie Gare Scholarship, the first athletic scholarships in Canada. He was the General Manager-Curator and Executive Director of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum from 1972-83, and served as the Canadian Olympic Association’s Deputy Team General Manager at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico. Because of his work with the International Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fame, he was awarded the W.R. Bill Schroeder Award for distinguished service in 1987.
When reflecting on all that he has done in various capacities, Mr. Webster notes a common thread. “Most of my work is dedicated to helping youth,” he says. “My hope is that I can help to provide young people today with opportunities that they might not otherwise have.” At a recent event where he was honoured with the Sport BC Presidents’ Award, Mr. Webster met up with Canadian ice dance champions Barry Soper and Louise Lind, who thanked him for all that he had done for them so many years earlier while he was at the Hall of Fame. “It’s those little things, those small acknowledgments, that are so meaningful to me,” he says.
His experience on boards of directors is extensive. Mr. Webster has been involved in the R. Howard Webster Foundation, The Peter Cundill Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada Foundation, the Justice Institute of B.C. Foundation, the BC Paraplegic Foundation, the Vancouver Police Foundation and the Mounted Police Foundation, to name a few. He was also a member of the successful Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid Corporation. And, in 2000, he received the federal government's International Year of the Volunteer Medal.
Mr. Webster also made his mark in the investment industry, working at the Royal Trust Company early in his career and then as a director of the Webster family enterprises much later on.
For all his successes, Mr. Webster is forever grateful to his alma mater. “I don’t think I would be where I am today without having had the LCC experience,” he says. “I wasn’t the best student and I wasn’t particularly athletic. But they wanted me to succeed. They cared about me. When I didn’t do well in my matrics, rather than giving up on me, then Headmaster Dr. Penton told me that he wanted me to graduate and that I could come back and redo the second half of grade 11.” Mr. Webster also worked in the athletics department, earning recognition in his final year as a superb manager of all sports. He readily admits that he probably never would have gone on to do all that he did in athletics if he hadn’t seized those opportunities.
Though Mr. Webster ultimately moved across the country, his dedication to LCC did not waver. Over the years, he has continued to be a staunch supporter of the school. In the 1990s, Mr. Webster established and endowed The Peter Webster Awards for LCC students entering grades 9, 10, 11 and Pre-U, as well as an award for a graduating Pre-U student heading off to a Canadian university. Most significantly, these awards recognize and assist hard-working and honest students, and are selected by the LCC staff based on their character and citizenship. He was instrumental in the building of the Webster Learning Activity Centre that opened in 2000, bringing together generations of Webster family support for the project.
He is a proud founding member of LCC’s Webster House and has been a member of the LCC Foundation Board of Directors since its establishment. Thanks to Mr. Webster, the R. Howard Webster Foundation now sponsors LCC’s annual Destiny Quebec Global Issues Student Leadership Conference.
It would stand to reason, then, that in 2015 LCC honoured Mr. Webster with the Non Nobis Solum Medal, an award established by the Alumni Association to acknowledge a unique contribution and outstanding commitment to Lower Canada College. “That award meant a great deal to me,” he says. “To be recognized by an institution that I hold in such high regard, was a real privilege.”
The Webster family’s ties to LCC date back to Mr. Webster’s grandparents, who sent their five sons to LCC. “There was always a spirit of being kind to one another at LCC. There was a devotion to the school, the community and even to the economic development of Canada,” he says. “There is so much good that has and continues to come out of that school. I think there must be something in the LCC water.”