Guest blog: Welcoming the Thomas John Ferris Memorial Scholarship Fund

Tom Ferris was born in Toronto, Ontario on January 23, 1956 and graduated from William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in 1975. He attended the University of Toronto to pursue a bachelor’s degree in history. He put himself through university by working at Chateau Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge, working his way up from pot washer to Captain Waiter.

Moving out west, Tom decided to settle in sunny Victoria, and so began his journey into the culinary fabric of Victoria.

On February 4th, 1991 the doors were opened to Ferris’ Oyster & Burger Bar. With a simple menu of oysters, burgers and sweet potato fries, the restaurant gained a steady stream of coffee kids and regulars. In the fall of 2005, Ferris’ Upstairs Seafood & Oyster Bar was born, and downstairs was redubbed Ferris’ Grill & Garden Patio (creating confusion that still exists today). The upstairs/downstairs venture helped the restaurant grow by leaps and bounds and in 2014, the upstairs Oyster Bar got a well-deserved renovation and across from the Oyster Bar…. Perro Negro Tapas & Wine was brought to life. All three restaurants continue to thrive.

Along the way, Tom was also successful in creating several other ventures: Twists, Café Giovanni, Zombies Pizza and Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti bar. Tom loved his work, staff, customers and his family; whistling every morning leaving to drive to Ferris’ and whistling when he arrived back home no matter how long the day.

Sadly, after a very brief battle with cancer, Tom passed away in August of 2019. With thanks to the support of the Ferris community, Tom’s family established the Thomas John Ferris Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Victoria Foundation. This fund will support scholarships in his name to enable hospitality and culinary workers to pursue their post-secondary goals. The first awards have been established at Camosun College: the Thomas John Ferris Memorial Award for Culinary Arts ($1,500) and the Thomas John Ferris Memorial Award for Hospitality Management ($1,500).

While success can easily be judged by the prosperity of the businesses Tom created, a better judgment of Tom’s success is the thousands of staff and customers alike, upon whose lives Tom has created a lasting impact. We hope these awards will help continue that spirit.

You can support the Thomas John Ferris Memorial Scholarship Fund by cash, cheque (payable to the Victoria Foundation), credit card, or online through CanadaHelps* (below). For information about giving publicly listed securities, or to donate by credit card, please call the Victoria Foundation at 250.381.5532.

If you have any questions about how to make a donation to the Victoria Foundation, please contact Sara Neely, Director of Philanthropic Services at 250.381.5532 or

* Please note CanadaHelps assesses a 3.5-4 per cent transaction fee on all donations. This amount is deducted before the donation is sent to the Victoria Foundation. This fee covers all credit card merchant fees, transaction fees, banking costs, receipting, reconciliation and disbursement. To avoid this fee, call the Victoria Foundation directly with your credit card information.