McGill University

McGill University: For the Advancement of Learning, Volume I, 1801-1895

STANLEY BRICE FROST
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 340
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zpxb
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  • Book Info
    McGill University
    Book Description:

    James McGill is an important figure in Canada's history in his own right. The bequest made in 1813 for the founding of a university of which one college was to bear his name only increased that significance. The political tensions of Lower Canada delayed implementation of his plans for sixteen years; and then it was only by incorporating the Montreal Medical Institution as Faculty of Medicine that in 1829 a beginning could be made. Thirty years after his death, the Faculty of Arts was finally established, but not until the trustee-body known as the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning was moved from Quebec City to Montreal and established as its board of governors did McGill College begin to revive and hold out promise of a respectable future.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6075-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. FOREWORD
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    R.E. Bell

    Many people, graduates, faculty, students of history, will I am sure have shared my feeling for the need of a formal, authoritative, definitive history of McGill University. By good fortune I found myself in a position to take action towards satisfying this need.

    When in 1973 Dr. Stanley B. Frost was within a few months of the end of his term as vice-principal, it was borne in on me that he would be a most appropriate person to undertake the formal history of McGill. He had published several books, and although his own discipline was Old Testament studies, it had...

  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    Stanley Brice Frost
  6. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  7. CHAPTER I MONTREAL AND JAMES McGILL
    (pp. 1-20)

    The story of McGill is intertwined with that of Montreal. The city began as a French trading post. It is true that there was also originally a sincere religious motive and a vigorous mission settlement, but it was trade that determined that Ville Marie should be established where it was, and trading interests early became the dominant ones. Before the British arrived, Montreal had already become a commercial centre of considerable significance. This was particularly but not wholly due to the immensely valuable fur trade, which was organized and supplied by this port of furthest penetration of sailing ships. The...

  8. CHAPTER II THE ROYAL INSTITUTION
    (pp. 21-46)

    James McGill the man, the merchant, and the public servant has been largely obscured by James McGill the founder of a university, even though a concern for education was only one of his many interests. But he certainly had that concern. It is instanced by his willingness to help the schoolmaster Alexander Skakel acquire ‘philosophical apparatus’. The costs involved were met by public subscription, and James McGill agreed to serve as one of the three trustees of the fund, to which no doubt he himself had contributed.

    Probably the form of his famous bequest owed much to the prompting of...

  9. CHAPTER III THE YEARS OF LITIGATION
    (pp. 47-68)

    It was in the early years of the Royal Institution’s existence, while Bishop Jacob Mountain was the president and Mills was the secretary of its board, that the first steps were taken towards giving tangible form to the objectives of the McGill bequest.

    Even before the incorporation of the Royal Institution there had been attempts to pressure the government into activity in the field of higher education, but these had resulted only in confused and ineffective correspondence between the colonial secretary in London and the governors in Quebec. There was one brief period in May 1816 when the Jesuit Estates...

  10. CHAPTER IV THE YEARS OF JOHN BETHUNE
    (pp. 69-100)

    John Bethune, rector of the parish of Montreal, was forty-four years old when he was appointed principal of McGill College and he was to continue in office for the next ten years.¹ Hardly had his term of office begun when Canada received the long-awaited decision of the Privy Council on the second lawsuit. It had, indeed, been announced in England in October 1835, one month before Bethune was appointed principal, but the news did not reach Montreal until after the new year had begun. The previous decisions against the Desrivières family and in favour of the Royal Institution were upheld....

  11. CHAPTER V A TIME OF INTERMISSION: 1846-1852
    (pp. 101-124)

    The reorganization of the Board of the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning and the disapprobation of Bethune were two events which coincided closely enough to mark the end of a period. The time that followed, however, was in the nature of an interim. Until the 1821 Charter could be amended, no great changes could take place, and the college could not determine the lines along which it would develop. Indeed for some years it was a question whether it could survive.

    The meeting of the board of governors which followed the departure of Bethune could not have been...

  12. CHAPTER VI THE FACULTY OF MEDICINE
    (pp. 125-148)

    In describing the events of the year 1829, we noted the great readiness of the McGill governors to ‘engraft’ the Montreal Medical Institution onto the stock of McGill College. The reasons for this readiness were not far to seek. The Medical Institution, in becoming the McGill Medical School, gave substance to the college’s claim to be actively engaged in the teaching function. In return, the diploma of the Medical Institution could be given degree status and carry with it the legal right to practise medicine within the Province of Lower Canada and in any other jurisdiction which recognized the McGill...

  13. CHAPTER VII A TIME OF RECONSTRUCTION: 1852-1855
    (pp. 149-176)

    As the decade of the forties closed, and as the McGill enterprise was being nursed into health by the careful administration of its income and by a rigorous control of its expenditures, the demand for a new charter grew ever more persistent. Referring to the amendments which had been proposed along with their 1848 Visitation Report, the members of the Board of the Royal Institution declared that they would ‘cheerfully cooperate with the Governors in any measure that may seem to them calculated to secure or expedite the passing of the amendments into law’.¹ In the spirit of this resolution...

  14. CHAPTER VIII DAWSON: THE EARLY YEARS
    (pp. 177-208)

    John William Dawson was born at Pictou, Nova Scotia, on 13 October 1820. He came to McGill in September 1855, to a college which had been revived and reorientated by its new board of governors. This remarkable group of men had come to some very definite conclusions as to what kind of institution they wanted the college to become and they had invited Dawson to become principal and implement those ideas. Dawson also had thought long and hard about the role of educational institutions in society, and had come to some very decided opinions of his own, and it was...

  15. CHAPTER IX MATTERS FINANCIAL
    (pp. 209-222)

    The progress of McGill College during the Dawson years was no more smooth and uniform than that of any other similar institution. While there were remarkably few personal or organizational tensions, there was a constant sense of financial constraint. Consequently, the old Puritan ideal of plain living and high thinking was much in vogue and contributed largely to the character of the college. From time to time, however, the situation became critical, and then other expedients had to be employed.

    The business policies of the board of governors had proved their general soundness during the years following the amendment of...

  16. CHAPTER X DAWSON: THE MIDDLE YEARS
    (pp. 223-238)

    As a young man, Dawson had gone from the small-town concerns of a colonial backwater to the intellectual brilliance of the liveliest university in Europe. After only a few months he had to leave again, and when he returned six years later it was in order to court Margaret Mercer. While he was waiting for her to make up her mind, he had the opportunity to attend more lectures and to experience a second time the stimulation of listening to the men who were making science happen. Ever after he called Edinburgh his Alma Mater, and all his life it...

  17. CHAPTER XI DAWSON: THE YEARS OF ACHIEVEMENT
    (pp. 239-264)

    In the year 1892, twelve months before Dawson’s resignation, a column appeared in the MontrealWitnessheaded ‘An Interesting Ceremony’. It recorded the presentation to McGill College of a portrait of Sir William, executed by Wyatt Eaton.¹ The presentation speech took the opportunity to compare the past and present:

    The McGill of 1855 when Sir Ed[mund] Head invited Sir William to become its Principal, and the McGill of 1892, present contrasts suggestive and magnificent. In 1855 there were only 70 students in all departments. In 1892, 900 throng its halls—then there were twenty professors, only one of whom was...

  18. CHAPTER XII THE END OF AN ERA
    (pp. 265-298)

    The flow of benefactions and the invasion of Donaldas took place in a college which was fast maturing into a university in fact as well as in name. By modern standards, the numbers were still small for every parameter, but the intellectual disciplines were coming of age.

    In the 1890s the general arts course was still firmly based in the classical culture and the matriculant was expected to be prepared in both Latin and Greek. The other required subjects were mathematics and English, the latter including a paper on ‘the leading events in English history’. The first year of the...

  19. McGILL COLLEGE SONGS
    (pp. 299-302)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 303-313)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 314-315)