Dr. Christopher I.H. Nicholl was born in Winnipeg and raised in Saskatchewan. He attended Ridley College and earned a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics at Queen’s University. During the latter years of WWII he served in England with the Royal Air Force Bomber Command. After the war Dr. Nicholl returned to academic life, earning two doctorates: one in Aeronautical Engineering from University of Toronto and one in Physics from Cambridge. He began his professional career with the National Research Council in Ottawa. In 1956 he became a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Université Laval, where he took on leadership roles as head of the Faculty and a member of the Conseil de l’Université. In 1976 Dr. Nicholl became the 14th Principal & Vice-Chancellor of Bishop’s University. In an environment in which governments and media were united in urging universities to produce “trained manpower,” he made sure Bishop’s remained true to its original mission: to offer a broadly based liberal education. His number one priority when he took over in 1976 was the survival of the institution. The arrival of the CEGEP system had cut enrolment in half; this decline led to faculty and staff insecurity. During Dr. Nicholl’s ten year term student numbers slowly increased, staff and faculty morale improved, and proper publicity and advertising increased the University’s visibility. Despite back breaking budget cutbacks at all levels of education, the future of Bishop’s looked more stable in 1986 when he retired. Bishop’s awarded Christopher Nicholl an honorary doctorate degree in 1986 for his significant contributions to the University. After retirement, he spent seven years researching the history of Bishop’s, culminating in the 1995 publication of his book Bishop’s University 1843-1970.
Christopher Nicholl was married to Margaret Harding for nearly 60 years, and they had five children: Lucy, Sarah, Tina, Kate and John. Many happy years were spent as members of the Bishop’s community, and upon retirement Christopher and Margaret moved to nearby Moulton Hill. Following family, they moved again to Gloucester near Ottawa in 1995. Christopher Nicholl was an avid walker, and for many year he and his wife conducted regular walking expeditions to England and France, including Offa’s Dyke and Hadrian’s Wall. Christopher Nichol died on February 28, 2011 in Fredericton NB.