I-4407 | Dr. John William Dawson, Principal of McGill College, Montreal, QC, 1862

 
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Dr. John William Dawson, Principal of McGill College, Montreal, QC, 1862
William Notman (1826-1891)
1862, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Wet collodion process
12 x 10 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-4407
© McCord Museum
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Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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In 1862, John William Dawson was completing his seventh year as the principal of McGill College. Before his arrival in Montreal, Dawson had built an excellent reputation as a geologist, both for his geological fieldwork and his numerous publications. In addition, he had helped reform the education system in Nova Scotia during his tenure as the province's superintendent of education.

For the members of the board of directors of McGill College, Dawson was just the man needed to restore the glory of the institution, whose finances and buildings were falling into ruin.

History was to prove them right. Upon his appointment, Dawson immediately set to work on the problems facing McGill. He established a teacher-training school. He forged links with American academic and scientific institutions. He convinced wealthy Montreal businessmen to make generation donations to the university. And, in 1860, he even organized one of Canada's first archeological digs when artifacts and fossils were discovered near the McGill campus.