The Ainslie siblings have so many UTS auditorium memories, it’s hard to pick just one. “We spent so much time in the auditorium,” recalls Don Ainslie ’84. “So much went on… UTS theatre, band performances, assemblies, our House events and more.” Mary Ainslie Q.C. ’83, recalls acting in Anne of Green Gables, House spirit events (go Althouse!) and a particularly “disastrous” performance of The Planets orchestral suite (she played clarinet). For Don, as Twig and Cuspidor editor, it was countless improv skits, athletics awards for swimming, as well as playing the cello in the orchestra.
The Ainslie family will be receiving Building the Future campaign recognition in the Auditorium’s Accessibility Room, where accessibility devices such as wheelchairs will be stored. They will also have a family seat, through the Take Your Seat initiative.
“The auditorium is really the heart of the school,” says Mary. “And accessibility is very much in keeping with the UTS ethos as being a school that values educating the mind no matter what your background or physical capacities are,” adds Don.
The Ainslie family connection with UTS hails back to the 1940s when their father, Dr. Jim Ainslie ‘49, P ’83, ’84, and their uncle, George Ainslie ’48, went to the school. Their cousin, Barbara Tuer ’80, also attended.
“UTS was never so much about the building and the grounds, as it was about the community around it,” says Don. “Creating a building which will allow the school to live up to what the community offers is a massive step forward.” This year, when their father passed away, Don says, “We received a very thoughtful letter from one of his best friends, Don Avery ’49, which really shows how the family’s UTS connections have been maintained since the 40s.” Don also received condolences from his former swim coach and teacher Ron Wakelin.
Don, who was Principal at University College and is currently on sabbatical in his role as a University of Toronto philosophy professor, received the 2020 UTS Heartwood Award for his volunteer work, which included being Director of the UTS Alumni Association, visiting philosophy classes as a guest speaker, judging debates and mentoring students for university interviews.
Both siblings volunteered with the Building the Future campaign. Mary, a senior prosecutor with the B.C. Ministry of Attorney General, became a strong supporter of the First Girls’ Initiative. “When I was approached by the First Girls’ Initiative, I knew almost all the women from the first decade and thought this is my chance to reconnect with these women who were all such wonderful students to learn from.”
The UTS experience comes down to “confidence and humility,” Mary says: “A perfect balance of teaching you to be confident and proud through intellectual rigor and analysis, but at the same time you know half the people beside you are twice as smart.”
Their giving is an expression of this bigger picture, she says, “recognizing the valuable educational start we had through the school and expressing our gratitude for how much it helped us.”