New Bagnani Hall at Trent University Honours Legacy of Gilbert and Stewart Bagnani


Lecture Hall and Adjoining Suite Most Recent Addition to Renovated Catharine Parr Traill College

Wednesday, March 10, 2010, Peterborough

A community celebration was held at Traill College this evening to announce the grand opening of the new Bagnani Hall and Room, and the successful conclusion of the Catharine Parr Traill College Capital Campaign.

Special guests included founding Trent president Professor T.H.B Symons and the first principal of Catharine Parr Traill College, Marion Fry, along with Trent University President Dr. Steven E. Franklin, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community supporters. Guests were treated to a piano recital by Mark Julson, who restored the outstanding 1910 Bechstein piano which graces the new Bagnani Room.

“Bagnani Hall is a living memorial to the contribution and philanthropy of Gilbert and Stewart Bagnani, whose support for Trent University was remarkable.” said Dr. Douglas Evans, head of Traill College and dean of Graduate Studies. “The hall is also an important addition to Traill College which is and always has been an historic and significant part of Trent University as a whole. With the new graduate studies focus of the college and the addition of the new Bagnani Hall, the role of Traill as a connector between the University and the community will continue to grow.” 

The new Bagnani Hall at Traill College houses both a modern and inspiring lecture forum designed to seat 85, and a complementary room furnished with some highly-prized furnishings and antiques from Vogrie, the Bagnani Estate near Port Hope. The Hall will serve as an excellent new lecture facility for undergraduate and graduate students and see extended use as a facility for community cultural events – capturing the spirit of the Bagnanis.

“The impact of the Bagnani Family goes back to the beginning of Trent University,” said Dianne Lister, vice president of External Relations and Advancement. “This new heightened tribute to the family’s influence and contributions to Trent will ensure a dynamic legacy for the future. The restored paintings, pastels, furniture and piano will provide an exquisite backdrop for future community events and the Bagnani Room will be available for small class study. Plans are also underway for a Bagnani Symposium to be held in the fall of 2010.”

Today’s grand opening of Bagnani Hall also provided an opportunity for Trent University to celebrate the successful completion of the Catharine Parr Traill College Capital Campaign. This campaign was one component of the $42.4 million Facilities Renewal and Development Strategy adopted by the University in 2007. Thanks to generous donor support, the campaign exceeded its goal and raised more than $2.1 million by January 2008. A revitalized Traill College, the University’s primarily graduate studies college, features $5.2 million in renovations and upgrades, including the new Bagnani Hall and Room. The Catharine Parr Traill College Capital Campaign is a key component of Trent University’s 2014 $50 Million Campaign which was launched in October 2009.

About the Bagnani Family

Gilbert Bagnani was a classics scholar, author and professor of ancient history at Trent University from 1965 to 1975. He was born in Rome in 1900 to General Ugo Bagnani and Florence Dewar of Port Hope. Mary Stewart Houston (“Stewart”) was born in Toronto in 1903. Her father, Stewart Houston, was the founding editor of the Financial Post. Her mother, Augusta Robinson, was the daughter of a Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, John Robinson and granddaughter of Chief Justice of Upper Canada, Sir John Robinson. Her great-uncle was Peter Robinson, who settled Peterborough.

Professor and Mrs. Bagnani married in Toronto in 1929. They lived in Rome while Prof. Bagnani was the field director of the excavations at Tebtunis in Egypt. Fleeing fascist Italy, they purchased a 200 acre farm near Port Hope, and named it Vogrie. They added a substantial library to display their collections of books, art, antiques and artefacts.

After retiring from the University of Toronto in 1965, Prof. Bagnani was invited to teach at Trent University by the founding president, Professor T.H.B Symons, a former student of Gilbert’s. Mrs. Bagnani worked at the Art Gallery of Toronto and taught art history at Trent, where she and students helped to establish an art collection for the Mackenzie Gallery. Prof. Bagnani received an honorary doctorate from Trent in 1971 and taught until 1975. They bequeathed their property, antiquities, art, furniture, books and papers to a number of institutions, including Trent. Trent University now offers the Bagnani Award for undergraduate and graduate students from Ontario and the Bagnani Medal, an award presented to top graduating students. A Bagnani Research Fellow was also established at the Trent University Archaeological Research Centre.

For more information about Trent’s 2014 $50 Million Campaign, visit


For more information, please contact:
Dianne Lister, Vice President, External Relations & Advancement, Trent University,
(705) 748-1011 x7207