Remembering Norman Jewison, one of Canada's most celebrated filmmakers

The acclaimed director was a U of T alumnus and former chancellor of Victoria University in the University of Toronto

(supplied image)

The University of Toronto community – and film fans around the world – are mourning the death of alumnus Norman Jewison.

One of Canada’s most celebrated filmmakers, Jewison received many awards and accolades for his artistic vision that challenged the status quo and brought a deep humanity to the characters and stories he told.

Jewison, who graduated from U of T in 1949 as a member of Victoria College, served as chancellor of Victoria University in the University of Toronto from 2004 – 2010. One of U of T’s most distinguished graduates, he also received an honorary doctorate from U of T in 1985 and from Victoria University in 2001.

The Jewison stream of Vic One, the award-winning first-year program at Victoria College, is named in his honour. There is also a Norman Jewison Fellowship in Film Studies at Innis College.

Norman Jewison (photo by Peter Bregg)

“Norman Jewison embodied a dazzling sense of curiosity and creativity that is such a big part of the Vic U ethos,” says Rhonda N. McEwen, president and vice-chancellor of Victoria University in the University of Toronto, which is planning to lower its flag to half-mast to honour Jewison’s legacy. 

“He was an inspiration to others while he was a student on campus and continued to evoke a sense of awe in generations of students, alumni, staff and faculty who watched as he went on to make films that are now an indelible part of our cultural landscape.

“He showed his gratitude for his university experience with generous donations to Victoria University throughout his life. I had the pleasure to meet his son and granddaughter recently and we enjoyed recounting his Vic U adventures. He will always be remembered here.”

Victoria University Library (E.J. Pratt Library) holds a large collection of Jewison’s photographs and publicity materials, papers and correspondence, shooting scripts and schedules primarily for films directed or produced by Jewison between the years 1975 and 2003. Materials related to the films Fiddler on the Roof, …And Justice for AllA Soldier’s StoryMoonstruckThe HurricaneThe Statement and others are held in this collection.

As a student, Norman Jewison was involved in various theatrical productions, including the Vic “Bob Revue,” Canada’s longest-running collegiate sketch comedy show (supplied image)

As a U of T student pursuing a bachelor of arts degree, Jewison was involved in writing, directing and acting in various theatrical productions, including the All-Varsity Revue in 1949 and the Vic “Bob Revue,” Canada’s longest-running collegiate sketch comedy revue, which was founded in 1874.

Ira Wells, director of academic programs at Victoria College, wrote the biography Norman Jewison A Director’s Life in 2021.

“Norman Jewison was among the greatest film directors of his generation,” says Wells. “His films were animated by a profound social conscience and commitment to civil rights and human dignity – and by a belief in the integrity of film itself. He believed that film could change its audience, even in a small way.

“Mr. Jewison was fond of saying, ‘film is forever.’ His unwavering support for Canadian talent through the Canadian Film Centre, and for Victoria College and University of Toronto students, made concrete differences in the lives of many. His abiding belief in the power of cinema will inspire generations to come.”


The Bulletin Brief logo

Subscribe to The Bulletin Brief

Victoria University/Arts & Science