Bill Graham

Chancellor Bill Graham (1939-2022)

August 9, 2022: View Provost Moran’s message to the Trinity community on the death of Chancellor Graham

It was a tough decision when the Hon. William C. Graham announced in February 2007 that he would not run again for office in the next federal election. But Parliament’s loss was Trinity College’s gain.

In becoming the College’s highest-ranking volunteer officer, the Hon. Bill Graham, a 1961 Trinity grad, joined a long line of distinguished predecessors that began with Sir John Beverley Robinson (1791-1863). It is a role for which he is eminently well suited. First elected a Liberal MP for Toronto Centre-Rosedale in 1993, Graham served from 1995 to 2002 as chairman of the standing committee of the House of Commons on foreign affairs and international trade. He was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in January 2002 under former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Minister of National Defence in July 2004 in the government of Paul Martin. In February 2006 he was appointed Leader of the Official Opposition, a position he held until last December.

While at Trinity on the way to earning an Honours BA in Modern History at U of T, Graham was prime minister of Trinity’s Literary Institute, the oldest student debating society in Canada. Ironically, he says, he spent much of his third year in the Lit, constantly being overthrown by my opposition. I spent the whole time in parliamentary manoeuvres, he laughs – albeit not at such a high level as in later years. In his fourth year, he was elected Head of Arts.

Although he was struck early by political aspirations, it was law that occupied the early part of his career. After earning his law degree at the University of Toronto in 1964, winning the school’s Gold Medal, he pursued a doctorate in law at the Université de Paris. As a partner in Fasken & Calvin in Toronto he practised in litigation and international commercial law, primarily in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In the 1980s, prior to being elected to Parliament, he was a professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, where he taught International Trade Law, Public International Law and the Law of the European Community.

Chancellors play a very important role at Trinity as the presiding dignitary at our ceremonies and important meetings such as Corporation, says Provost Mayo Moran, adding that they also serve in other less defined ways: helping to set the tone of the College, bringing the different communities together, inspiring the students, and giving advice and help to the Provost.

Chancellor Graham and his wife Cathy, also a Trinity grad (63′), were married in the Trinity College Chapel. They have two children, Katy and Patrick.