Today is the birthday of James McGill (October 6, 1744 – December 19, 1813) who was born in Scotland and educated at the University of Glasgow. Soon after graduating, McGill left for North America to explore the business opportunities there. By 1766, he was in Montreal where he entered the fur trade. As a fur trader and land owner, he further diversified his activities into land speculation and the timber trade. At his death in 1813, he was one of the richest men in Montreal, leaving an estate well in excess of £100,000.
He bequeathed much of his estate to the founding of McGill University.
McGill University is important to us personally because our mother and father met there as graduate students in 1948-49 or thereabouts.
In those days McGill was a very “English” university and Montreal was a Commonwealth town. My parents enjoyed that and always liked all things English forever after.
Indeed, our father was always fond of Canada, which went back to his time at McGill. He even taught a class on Canadian History, which was rare back in the 1970s. My mother remembered McGill fondly and enjoyed being one of very few women in the mostly male History Department. She remembered Montreal as cold and bleak in the long winter and I recall her telling us how they would find a dead body or two every spring when the snow banks melted. Neither parent finished his/her degree–our father was called back to the Army–but something good came of their Canadian season–they were married in 1950. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Anyway, I am so ready for the weekend. I have plans for a fun outing with my friends, and daughter #1 is coming home for a quick visit on Saturday afternoon, so I am all set for a good time.
Have a great weekend!
*God Save McGill by W.M. MacKeracher, Arts ’94