II-137467 | Sir William C. MacDonald, Montreal, QC, 1901

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Sir William C. MacDonald, Montreal, QC, 1901
Wm. Notman & Son
1901, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
17 x 12 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Sir William Macdonald (1831-1917), founder of the McDonald Tobacco Company, was one of the most generous philanthropists of the early 20th century, giving away as much as $15 million, 13 million of it to McGill University. Less well-known than many of his contemporaries, Macdonald was a bachelor who lived in a modest house on Prince of Wales Terrace. His philanthropy was largely directed towards modernizing McGill University, where he paid for the construction of the physics, engineering and chemistry buildings and for their operating costs, as well as for a student union hall. As a native of Prince Edward Island, Macdonald had a particular interest in rural education, and helped create a rural education programme that aided schools across Canada. Perhaps his most spectacular contribution to education was Macdonald College, which he both built and endowed. When he died, Macdonald left a business estimated to be worth $20,000,000 to the sons of his assistant David Stewart. His important philanthropic contributions have been carried on through the Macdonald Stewart Foundation which they established.

  • What

    This is a photograph of Sir William Macdonald, one of the most generous philanthropists of the early 20th century.

  • Where

    Born in Glenaladale, P.E.I, Macdonald moved to Montreal around 1852 and opened his successful tobacco company in 1858. He spent the rest of his life working in Montreal.

  • When

    William Macdonald was born in 1831. He died in Montreal in 1917.

  • Who

    Sir William Macdonald received a knighthood in 1898.