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Gaga, gardening and grandkids: Off the clock with Angela Hildyard

Professor Angela Hildyard with grandson, granddaughter, and Mickey MouseProfessor Angela Hildyard, Higher Education
Vice-President, HR & Equity


Angela has been with the University of Toronto (U of T) since 1970.


“I arrived at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in 1970, worked as a research assistant for two years, was a graduate student (and had two kids) between 1972 and 1976, and returned to work in 1976. So all told, I have been part of the University for 43 years and have worked for 39 of those years.”

What do you do off the clock?

I don’t tend to have huge amounts of spare time, but I work hard to try to recharge my batteries. My passions are my two (very adult) children, their partners, my grandchildren, gardening, and going to concerts.

I love spending time with my grandchildren — two of whom live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and (almost) two who live in Austin, Texas.

My GTA grandkids frequently come to the home I have near Niagara-on-the-Lake for sleepovers and I spoil them terribly. I regularly go and visit the little one in Austin (who is about to have a baby sister) even in the middle of summer when it is hot, hot, hot!

I am very fortunate to have an extremely strong and positive relationship with my kids and we go away on vacations together. The photo is from a vacation we took last year.

Regarding concerts, I am referring to rock concerts…the kind of concerts that are so loud that your body vibrates! U2, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Lady Gaga…. I have been known to blow the speakers in a car!

How did you first become interested in gardening?

My interest in gardening is recent — well, in the last 20 years! I have always loved house plants (and my passion is orchids) but did not do much proper gardening until I found how therapeutic it can be, especially whacking weeds after a tough, frustrating week.

I do my gardening out in Niagara and since I am not there during the week, I have had to learn how to grow plants that can survive drought.

Over the past two years I have been slowly converting my grass into an open style patio (i.e., lots of space between patio stones for ground cover and low-lying plants). I have done it all myself and my criterion for the selection of the patio stones was that I had to be able to lift and move them.

I have become a very frequent visitor to the St Catharines Home Depot where I buy 10 stones at a time and transport them in my car. I think I have now put down close to 240 stones…and I am not quite finished!

I also like to garden when I am down in Austin where I am learning about cactus, yucca, lantana and other heat-resistant plants. I do have to dress carefully with proper shoes and long gloves because of tarantulas and snakes. I will often be out very early in the morning because it is tough to bear when it is 100-plus degrees — in the shade.

What (or who) inspires or influences your work?

Being part of this amazing institution inspires me. The faculty, the staff, and the students are outstanding. Where else could one work where you have the opportunity to engage with some of the finest minds, the most innovative thinkers and meet young people who are going to change the world for the better?

My goal is to ensure that our faculty and students are able to work and study in an environment that fosters excellence and that our staff are encouraged and supported in terms of innovation and effectiveness. I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to work at U of T.