Vancouver Island University's roots go back to 1936 when local garage owner and mechanic Jack Macready welcomed eight boys to train as automotive mechanics in a shed-turned-classroom. Two years later the federal and provincial governments began to fund vocational training in BC and Macready's workshop was moved to more substantial quarters on the property of Thomas Hodgson School at the corner of Machleary and Wentworth Streets in downtown Nanaimo. It was officially named The Dominion-Provincial Youth Training Centre in 1938.
While governments invested financially, the school relied on the support of the community for its success: when resources were scarce during the Depression locals donated wood to heat the school as well as used motors and machines with which instructors taught. Later, students invested their own efforts toward the development of the community by clearing land for schools, sports fields, and roads. Reciprocal community support and involvement have been constant since the institution's beginnings and are what has enabled VIU to grow into the successful, innovative, community-based and internationally-reaching educational institution it is today.