Mitchell Sharp Commemorative Bursary (762200302048)





Mitchell Sharp, P.C., C.C., was born in Winnipeg on May 11, 1911, one year after his newly-wed parents arrived from Scotland. His mother taught him piano at age six. Although he had to quit school at 14 to help with the family, he continued piano lessons in addition to night classes to further his education. He obtained a B.A. at the University of Manitoba in 1934. While newly employed by James Richardson & Sons, in Winnipeg, he attended the London School of Economics in 1937-38. On his return, he applied his expertise in the grain trade for Richardson clients. He came to Ottawa in 1942, when offered a wartime job in the department of Finance. At the end of 1950, he was named Associate Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Commerce; from 1957 to 1958, he served as Deputy Minister. From 1958 to 1962, he re-entered the private sector as Vice-president of the Toronto-based Brazilian Traction Light and Power Company.

Photo Michael Bedford, Ottawa

The voters in the (Toronto) riding of Eglinton elected him to the House of Commons in 1963. He was first appointed to Cabinet as Minister of Trade and Commerce in 1963, and then became Minister of Finance in 1965. From 1968 to 1974, he served as Secretary of State for External Affairs and from 1974 to 1976, as President of the Privy Council and House Leader as well as deputy Prime Minister. Long after his contemporaries had retired, he continued to go to work every day. On leaving politics in 1978, he became Commissioner of the Northern Pipeline Agency, a position he held for the next 10 years. From 1993 to December 2003, he took the post of Personal Advisor to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, for the yearly sum of one dollar.Over the years, he received several honorary degrees from Canadian universities; he became a Companion of the order of Canada in 1999.

For this public man, music was a private passion; he played the piano at home every day. He was very proud of his sustained support in Cabinet for the establishment of a National Arts Centre in Ottawa and its renowned Orchestra, and also very proud of the Diploma Honoris Causa he received from the Royal Conservatory of Music. In his memoirs Which Reminds me … (University of Toronto Press, 1994), on page 8, he writes: “The most exciting moment of my life? Getting elected? Becoming a Cabinet Minister? No. It was when I played the Andante movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 (The Elvira Madigan theme) at a novelty fund-raising Christmas concert in 1972, with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Victor Feldbrill.”

This, however, was not his final concert appearance. In September 2001, as a guest conductor of the NAC Orchestra – with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and maestro Pinchas Zukerman playing with the orchestra – he lead in the rendition of Mozart’s Overture to the Mariage of Figaro; he received a thunderous standing ovation. In July 2003, at the 10th anniversary gala opening of the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, as surprise guest performer, he played the Fairy Wedding Waltz – a piece his mother taught him. There was another thunderous standing ovation! He passed away, aged 92, on March 19, 2004, in Ottawa.

In early February 2005, the School of Music inaugurated the Mitchell Sharp Studio, following the bequest of his Steinway to the University of Ottawa. Through this endowment, his indomitable spirit will live on in the careers of talented pianists.


To provide financial assistance to promising pianists registered in the School of Music at the University of Ottawa


Eligibility Criteria:

The applicant must:

1. be registered full-time as a piano student in the School of Music at the University of Ottawa;

2. demonstrate their commitment for sharing their passion for piano music with others; and

3. demonstrate financial need, as determined by the Financial Aid and Awards Service of the University of Ottawa.

Value of the Award: Variable

Number of Awards: Variable

Frequency of the Award: Annual

Level of the Award: Undergraduate or Graduate

Application Contact: Financial Aid and Awards Service

Application Deadline: April 30


Applications must be made through Online Scholarships and Bursaries, which can be accessed through, and should include the Financial Questionnaire.