He’s a British Columbia farmer who graduated from U of T almost 60 years ago, but Guy Mills hasn’t let time or geography distance him from his alma mater. The 80-year-old math and commerce grad still contributes every year to the university’s National Scholarship program.
Mills, who attended U of T during the post-Second World War boom, says the experience of that era showed him that “university graduates can give the whole country a boost.” That’s why, since 1988, Mills has donated a total of more than $350,000 to help students cover the cost of their university education.
Mills’ initial donation helped launch the National Scholarship program and created two bursaries. One bursary is named for his parents, Guy E. and Edith Mills, who immigrated to Canada from England in 1912. Guy E. Mills received only a Grade 8 education, but established a successful automotive dealership in Toronto. Mills remembers his parents persuading him on to higher education. After he returned from the war, they drove the two-lane highway from Toronto to Montreal to urge Mills to abandon his apprenticeship with the Park Steamship Company and attend university. “They thought it was pretty important,” he says.
After completing his math and commerce degrees at U of T, Mills left Toronto for Western Canada in 1963. He acquired land in Hudson’s Hope, B.C., and cleared it for farming. His background in commerce came in “very handy,” he says, when making investment and business decisions.
As for his annual contributions to U of T, he considers those smart investments – and plans to keep making them. Besides, he says, “If I stopped now I might ruin someone’s chances of getting through university.”