Eric Peterson to receive the University of Regina’s highest honour

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 6, 2019 10:00 a.m.

Eric Peterson wants young people to know that they can achieve success in the arts right here in Canada. He will receive an honorary degree from the U of R today.
Eric Peterson wants young people to know that they can achieve success in the arts right here in Canada. He will receive an honorary degree from the U of R today. Photo: U of R Photography

At the University of Regina’s 45th annual spring convocation being held at the Conexus Arts Centre today at 2:00 p.m., Eric Peterson will receive the highest recognition the University can bestow – an honorary degree – for his contribution to the arts. 

Eric Peterson

Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts 

Eric Peterson was born and raised at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. His acting career began when he took part in a student drama production at the University of Saskatchewan. After his second year he dropped out, working for a semi-professional drama company and then moving to England, where he served as an apprentice stage manager, picking up acting roles where he could. After he returned to Canada, Peterson eventually settled in Toronto, where he had opportunities to work in homegrown theatre projects telling Canadian stories. Those experiences had a profound effect on him; he became a lifelong advocate for cultural expressions in all of the arts that show what living in Canada and being Canadian is like. 

Peterson’s long list of acting credits includes The Farm Show, a collective creation based on conversations with people in Ontario’s farm country, and Billy Bishop Goes to War, an enduring musical stage play with Peterson’s longtime collaborator, John Gray. The often-revived production dramatizing the life of World War One fighter pilot Billy Bishop has been a staple for the duo throughout their careers, on stage and on film. 

Peterson has also had lead roles in the TV series Street Legal, This is Wonderland, and Saskatchewan’s own Corner Gas, where he played the cantankerous Oscar Leroy. It was a huge thrill to work on a show in his home province, he says, proving that Canada can produce successful cultural productions based on who we are. Peterson reprised the Oscar Leroy role in Corner Gas: The Movie, and voices Oscar in the Corner Gas Animated TV series. 

“It’s difficult for me to put into words,” said Peterson about receiving an honorary degree from the University of Regina. “It’s a big deal for me. And it affirms to young people the possibility that they don’t have to leave home to achieve success; that being a cultural worker is not just something done by other people in other places.”