Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning
The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning (RIAL) was created in 1801 under an Act of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada (41 George III Chapter 17), An Act for the establishment of Free Schools and the Advancement of Learning in this Province.
In 1816 the RIAL was authorized to operate two new Royal Grammar Schools, in Quebec City and in Montreal. This was a turning point for public education in Lower Canada as the schools were created by legislation, the District Public Schools Act of 1807, which showed the government's willingness to support the costs of education and even the salary of a schoolmaster. This was an important first step in the creation of nondenominational schools. When James McGill died in 1813 his bequest was administered by the RIAL.
Of the original two Royal Grammar Schools, in 1846 one closed and the other merged with the High School of Montreal. By the mid-19th century the RIAL had lost control of the other eighty-two grammar schools it had administered. However, in 1853 it took over the High School of Montreal from the school's board of directors and continued to operate it until 1870. Thereafter, its sole remaining purpose was to administer the McGill bequest on behalf of the private college. The RIAL continues to exist today; it is the corporate identity that runs the university and its various constituent bodies, including the former Macdonald College (now Macdonald Campus), the Montreal Neurological Institute, and the Royal Victoria College (the former women's college turned residence). Since the revised Royal Charter of 1852, The Trustees of the RIAL comprise the Board of Governors of McGill University.
James McGill, born in Glasgow, Scotland on 6 October 1744, was a successful merchant and slave owner in Quebec, having matriculated into the University of Glasgow in 1756. Soon afterwards, McGill left for North America to explore the business opportunities there. Between 1811 and 1813, he drew up a will leaving his "Burnside estate", a 19-hectare (47-acre) tract of rural land and 10,000 pounds to the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning.
On McGill's death in December 1813, the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning, established in 1801 by an Act of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, added the establishing of a University pursuant to the conditions of McGill's will to its original function of administering elementary education in Lower Canada.
As a condition of the bequest, the land and funds had to be used for the establishment of a "University or College, for the purposes of Education and the Advancement of Learning in the said Province." The will specified a private, constituent college bearing his name would have to be established within 10 years of his death; otherwise the bequest would revert to the heirs of his wife.
On March 31, 1821, after protracted legal battles with the Desrivières family (the heirs of his wife), McGill College received a royal charter from King George IV. The Charter provided the College should be deemed and taken as a University, with the power of conferring degrees.
The Arts Building, completed in 1843 and designed by John Ostell
, is the oldest building on campus
Although McGill College received its Royal Charter in 1821, it was inactive until 1829 when the Montreal Medical Institution, which had been founded in 1823, became the college's first academic unit and Canada's first medical school. The Faculty of Medicine granted its first degree, a Doctorate of Medicine and Surgery, in 1833; this was also the first medical degree to be awarded in Canada.
The Faculty of Medicine remained the school's only functioning faculty until 1843, when the Faculty of Arts commenced teaching in the newly constructed Arts Building and East Wing (Dawson Hall). The university also historically has strong links with the Canadian Grenadier Guards, a military regiment in which James McGill served as Lieutenant-Colonel. This title is marked upon the stone that stands before the Arts building, from where the Guards step off annually to commemorate Remembrance Day.
The Faculty of Law was founded in 1848 and is also the oldest of its kind in the nation. 48 years later, the school of architecture at McGill University was founded.
Sir John William Dawson, McGill's principal from 1855 to 1893, is often credited with transforming the school into a modern university. He recruited the aid of Montreal's wealthiest citizens (eighty percent of Canada's wealth was then controlled by families who lived within the Golden Square Mile area that surrounded the university), many of whom donated property and funding needed to construct the campus buildings. Their names adorn many of the campus's prominent buildings.
William Spier designed the
addition of West Wing of the Arts Building for William Molson, 1861. Alexander Francis Dunlop designed major alterations to the East Wing of McGill College (now called the Arts Building, McGill University) for Prof. Bovey and the Science Dept., 1888. This expansion of the campus continued until 1920. Buildings designed by Andrew Taylor include the Redpath Museum (1880), Macdonald Physics Building (1893), the Redpath Library (1893), the Macdonald Chemistry Building (1896), the Macdonald Engineering Building (1907)—now known as the Macdonald-Stewart Library Building, and the Strathcona Medical Building (1907)—since renamed the Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry Building.
In 1900, the university established the MacLennan Travelling Library. McGill University Waltz composed by Frances C. Robinson, was published in Montréal by W.H. Scroggie, c 1904.
McGill University and Mount Royal, 1906, Panoramic Photo Company
In 1885, the university's Board of Governors formally adopted the use of the name ‘McGill University’. In 1905, the university acquired a second campus when Sir William C. Macdonald, one of the university's major benefactors, endowed a college in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, 32 kilometres west of Montreal. Macdonald College, now known as the Macdonald Campus, opened to students in 1907, originally offering programs in agriculture, household science, and teaching.
George Allan Ross designed the Pathology Building, 1922–23; the Neurological Institute, 1933; Neurological Institute addition 1938 at McGill University. Jean Julien Perrault (architect) designed the McTavish Street residence for Charles E. Gravel, which is now called David Thompson House (1934).
Women's education at McGill began in 1884, when Donald Smith (later the Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal), began funding separate lectures for women, given by university staff members. The first degrees granted to women at McGill were conferred in 1888. In 1899, the Royal Victoria College (RVC) opened as a residential college for women at McGill with Hilda D. Oakeley as the head. Until the 1970s, all female undergraduate students, known as "Donaldas," were considered to be members of RVC. Beginning in the autumn of 2010, the newer Tower section of Royal Victoria College is a co-ed dormitory, whereas the older West Wing remains strictly for women. Both the Tower and the West Wing of Royal Victoria College form part of the university's residence system.
McGill in the Great War
The Second University Company prior to their departure for France
Stained Glass Great War Memorial entrance to the Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art
McGill University played a significant role in The Great War. Many students and alumni enlisted in the first wave of patriotic fervor that swept the nation in 1914, but in the spring of 1915—after the first wave of heavy Canadian casualties at Ypres—Hamilton Gault, the founder of the Canadian regiment and a wealthy Montreal businessman, was faced with a desperate shortage of troops. When he reached out to his friends at home for support, over two hundred were commissioned from the ranks, and many more would serve as soldiers throughout the war. On their return to Canada after the war, Major George McDonald and Major George Currie formed the accounting firm McDonald Currie, which later became one of the founders of Price Waterhouse Coopers. Captain Percival Molson was killed in action in July 1917. Percival Molson Memorial Stadium at McGill is named in his honour.
The War Memorial Hall (more generally known as Memorial Hall) is a landmark building on the campus of McGill University. At the dedication ceremony the Governor General of Canada (Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis) laid the cornerstone. Dedicated on October 6, 1946, the Memorial Hall and adjoining Memorial Pool honour students who had enlisted and died in the First World War, and in the Second World War. In Memorial Hall, there are two Stained Glass Regimental badge World War I and World War II Memorial Windows by Charles William Kelsey c. 1950/1.
A war memorial window (1950) by Charles William Kelsey in the McGill War Memorial Hall depicts the figure of St. Michael and the badges of the Navy, Army and the Air Force.
A Great War memorial window featuring Saint George and a slain dragon at the entrance to the Blackader-Lauterman Library of Architecture and Art is dedicated to the memory of 23 members of the McGill chapter of Delta Upsilon who gave their lives in the Great War.
Six other windows (1951) by Charles William Kelsey on the west wall of the memorial hall depict the coats of arms of the regiments in which the McGill alumni were members.
There is a memorial archway at Macdonald College, two additional floors added to the existing Sir Arthur Currie gymnasium, a hockey rink and funding for an annual Memorial Assembly. A Book of Remembrance on a marble table contains the names of those lost in both World Wars. On 11 November 2012 the McGill Remembers web site launched; the University War Records Office collected documents between 1940 and 1946 related to McGill students, staff and faculty in the Second World War.
Quotas on Jewish students
Beginning in the 1920s, and continuing until the 1960s, McGill imposed a controversial quota which specified a maximum on the proportion of newly admitted students who were Jewish. The quota limited the Jewish population across McGill to at most 10%.
Founder of universities and colleges
McGill was instrumental in founding several major universities and colleges. It established the first post-secondary institutions in British Columbia to provide degree programs to the growing cities of Vancouver and Victoria. It chartered Victoria College in 1903 as an affiliated junior college of McGill, offering first and second-year courses in arts and science, until it became today's University of Victoria. British Columbia's first university was incorporated in Vancouver in 1908 as the McGill University College of British Columbia. The private institution granted McGill degrees until it became the independent University of British Columbia in 1915.
Dawson College began in 1945 as a satellite campus of McGill to absorb the anticipated influx of students after World War II. Many students in their first 3 years in the Faculty of Engineering took courses at Dawson College to relieve the McGill campus for the later two years for their degree course. Dawson eventually became independent of McGill and evolved into the first English CEGEP in Quebec. Another CEGEP, John Abbott College, was established in 1971 at the campus of McGill's Macdonald College.
Both founders of the University of Alberta, Premier Alexander Cameron Rutherford of Alberta and Henry Marshall Tory, were also McGill alumni. In addition, McGill alumni and professors, Sir William Osler and Howard Atwood Kelly, were among the four founders and early faculty members of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Osler eventually became the first Physician-in-Chief of the new Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, US in 1889. He led the creation of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1893. Other McGill alumni founded the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry in the 1880s.