Our Story


1973:Illustration of the Pearson College campus by R. Kovach


Lester B. Pearson, Nobel Peace Laureate and former Prime Minister of Canada, was the driving force behind the founding of Pearson College. After retiring from public life, Mr. Pearson became interested in the United World Colleges movement. At the time there was only one—the College of the Atlantic in Wales, established in 1962. Mr. Pearson visited the College of the Atlantic in 1969 and came away convinced that there must be more such colleges around the world; in particular, one on Canada's west coast. He envisioned that:

“Students will be welcomed without regard to race, religion or politics and we intend to establish scholarships so that the students who attend the College will be from all levels of society and will be genuine representatives of their own peoples. This system … could become a revolutionary force in international education.”

Lester B. Pearson became Honourary Chairman of a committee formed to build what was to be known as the College of the Pacific. He worked tirelessly to get things started, but died in December 1972, just as the project was getting underway.

photo courtesy on the National Archives of Canada

1974:Jack Matthews, Founding Director of Pearson College

Jim Ryan Photos

1975:College Opening Ceremony with Lord Mountbatten, first President of United World Colleges. Jean Chretien is to his left; he would go on to become Prime Minister of Canada from November 1993 to December 2003

1976:Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau arrives at Pearson College by floatplane

1976:Trudeau address the Pearson College community at a Village Meeting

1979:Head of School Jack Matthews (left) with Prince Charles (centre), who became President of United World Colleges following the assassination of his uncle, Lord Mountbatten and with The Hon. John Nichol (right), Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Photograph by Ian McKain

1979:Students working with a faculty member in the chemistry lab

1979:A common sighting around campus to this day: students sitting/studying/meditating on tree stumps

1979:Forestry Service students cut a trail near the College for BC Parks

1979:Scuba Diving Service students––students who joined this service made their own diving suits

1980:Mountain Rescue Service practice a cliffside rescue

1981:Our first student from Turkey, with a student from Israel

1981: Students at Pearson College Radio

circa 1980-85:At sea in a rescue boat. Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boats (RIBs) are used today by life-saving crews around the world—but their roots are right here, on the shores of Pedder Bay at Pearson College. Well, almost. The first RIB was constructed by students at UWC Atlantic in Wales, Pearson’s sister college, in the mid ‘60s, using plywood glued to the frame of a dinghy-type rescue boat. In 1974 (and several prototypes later), drawings and materials for two RIBs were sent to Pearson College, then in its inaugural year. That summer the College loaned one of the boats to the Canadian Coast Guard. It was fast, solid, economical—and took off as a rescue boat around the world. Today, RIBs are widely used as rescue, whale-watching and dive boats.

circa 1980s:Students studying

circa mid-1980s:A beginners' scuba diving class in the Molson Pool

circa 1988-89:Music and dance have always been a key ingredient of campus life

1993:Clayoquot Sound protesters

1993:One World Ukrainian folk dance

1995:20-year reunion of PC Years 1 and 2. Jack Matthews is to the left in his trademark capn's cap

circa 1998-2000:Classic shot of campus life

circa 1998-2000:Eating outside the dining hall

circa late 1990s:Aerial view of Race Rocks; Pearson College manages the national Ecological Reserve

circa late 1990s:Race Rocks sea lions


circa late 1990s:One World performance

circa late 1990s:Aerial view of the Pearson College campus

2002:College life

2002:Around the Marine Science water table

2002:Philosophy students on a glorious spring day

2004:Pearson College Choir singing at Metchosin Day

2004:Class in Max Bell Hall

2005:Practicing Ukrainian Dance for One World in Max Bell Hall with Faculty member Theo Dombrowski

2005:Studying in the Library

2005:Theory of Knowledge graduation PC Year 31

2005:View from the Pearson College Observatory at night

2005:Student art displayed on campus

2007:Totem in front of the Spiritual Centre

2007:Greeting the sunrise at Taylor Beach. It was a day that all classes were postponed and everyone woke up in the dark and walked along the beach to Taylor Beach, where the cafeteria staff was waiting with hot chocolate and hot breakfast. The sun came up just as everyone arrived. It was lovely and a great change of pace.