I-63563 | McGill University, Montreal, QC, composite, 1871
McGill University, Montreal, QC, composite, 1871
William Notman (1826-1891)
1871, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Wet collodion process
17 x 12 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Art (2774) , composite (312) , Photograph (77678)
Keys to History
Philanthropists were involved in a broad range of social causes -- education, public health, museums, parks and animal protection. Universities in particular benefited greatly from their support. The association between lack of education and poverty on the one hand and between education and progress on the other led many people to uphold this cause. While the government assumed responsibility for the school system, many universities depended on private donations for their creation, their expansion and their modernisation. This was the case with McGill University in Montreal, created on the basis of a bequest of land and money. It was sustained over the years by regular large donations from supporters who provided the funds to form new faculties in buildings constructed for the purpose, to open new services and expand the student base. Being able to depend on the certainty of this financial support enabled McGill to keep up to date with scientific developments and to remain to this day a world-class institution.
This illustration is a form of photographic mosaic known as a "composite". It shows the early McGill University buildings with James McGill (1744-1813), the original benefactor, on the left, and J. W. Dawson (1820-1899), the principal from 1855 to 1893.
McGill was constructed on the forty-six-acre estate James McGill left for that purpose. The university gates are on Sherbrooke Street above University Street in the centre of the English-speaking district at the foot of Mount Royal.
McGill College received its Royal Charter in 1821 and opened in 1829 with a Faculty of Medicine. New programs, faculties and professional schools were added over the century.
The growth of McGill University was largely made possible by the support of a number of wealthy philanthropists. The university is a testimony to one of the major bequests left by philanthropists to modern Canada.