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    Chair in Canadian-Scottish Studies at McGill University


    Hi Mairiuna!

    Just received “The Scots Canadian” quaterly newsletter published by the Scottish Studies Society and I’m really pleased to share good news from an article that grabbed my attention in no time flat…

    ‘Canadian-Scottish Studies at McGill’

    Listen to this my friend: the St-Andrew’s Society of Montreal and the McEuen Scholarship Foundation are seeking philanthropic support to create a Chair in Canadian-Scottish Studies at Montreal’s McGill University!

    Wow..this is such a great and exciting initiative! 🙂 Without shadow of a doubt, it will ensure that Canada’s shared history with Scotland lay path to building a network of interdisciplinary studies, researchs, conferences, lectures alongside cultural and artistic events & activities reinforcing the strong bond that exists between Canadians and Scottish people.

    No matter from which side of Canadian history you glance at;  literature, business, education, politics, exploration to name just these few, you encounter Scots and their descendants that played leading roles in shaping the Canadian country.



    Whisky FĂȘte fundraiser for McGill Scottish Chair

    Montreal is getting a little peaty, smokey and maybe even a little sweet!

    This Friday, the St.Andrew’s Society of Montreal presents its first Whisky FĂȘte. The whisky tasting event is a fundraiser for a new Chair in Canadian-Scottish Studies at McGill University.

    More than 50 rare and special Scotches single-malts will be featured at the event.

    Click here to play the audio clip (interview)

    Peter McAuslan, founder, president and CEO of McAuslan Brewing is a spokesperson for the event. He’s a past president of the St Andrew’s Society of Montreal and is on the board for the Chair in Canadian-Scottish studies.

    Brian McQueenie is co-director of Ouidram, the group that organized this tasting of fine whiskeys. They join Sonali Karnick in studio.



    You’ll enjoy watching this video especially if you’re a whisky fan!



    The majority of Canadian universities share a Scottish heritage. For example, in Nova Scotia, the Scottish Earl of Dalhousie, George Ramsay, founded the Dalhousie University in 1818 while in service as lieutenant governor of the province.

    The Queen’s College in Kingston, Ontario was established by the Church of Scotland in 1841, modelled after the University of Edinburgh for its traditions of academic freedom, authority and moral responsibility.  Be it said that while evolving into a university, Queen’s became ‘the first degree-granting institution in the United Province of Canada, and the first west of the Maritimes to admit women.’ 😉

    mcgill university front entrance sherbrooke street in winter

    I could name many more, but let’s come back to McGill University which owes its existence to philanthropist James McGill, a native of Glasgow in 1744, from a family which origins are from the Ayrshire region. Can you imagine… he was already studying at Glasgow University when only 12 of age!

    Search results from the web and books in my library mentions that it is more likely that he arrived in Canada in the early 1760’s, as part of a surge of Scottish settlement that followed the Conquest. In 1776, at 33 of age, James McGill became a justice of the peace and by 1779 was one of the largest shareholders in the Northwest Company. While continuying the import-export business, he acquired large real estate in Lower Canada.

    James McGill Scottish philantropist

    James McGill (1744-1813)

    Fluently bilingual, James McGill was elected a member of the new Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada and served for 8 years. He suddenly died, in 1813, of a stroke or an heart attack.  Two years earlier, he had wrote his will and in his legacy provided land and money to establish a college or university.
    Established in 1821, McGill College opened its doors in 1829 to classes in what had once been McGill’s country house. First degree was awarded in 1833.  Subsequently, works were underway to construct an Arts building and

    ‘in 1855, principal John William Dawson, a Nova Scotia Scot who had completed his education in Edinburgh, turned the college into a university with the financial aid of those who lived in the Golden Square Mile around McGill. Mostly Scots, these donors left their names on various university buildings: the Redpath Museum, the MacDonald Physics Building, the Strathcona Medical Building, and so on. Mc Gill became a university in 1885.


    Source: How The Scots Invented Canada, by Ken McGoogan

    McGill University stands up tall to its reputation of leading university with 21 faculties and schools providing more than 300 programs to 30,000 + students from all over the world.


    McGill’s dedication to public service distinguished him from many of his fur-trading contemporaries. A volunteer Colonel with the Montreal militia, he led the defence of Montreal during the War of 1812. He served as a city magistrate for many years, making him part of a council that was the de facto government of Montreal at the time. He was also a member of a committee that reported on the need for a Legislative Assembly for the colony of Lower Canada, to which he would be elected three times.

    james mcgill statue

    James McGill Statue

    Always a visionary, McGill was determined to create a rigorous system of education for Lower Canada. During his time as a legislator, he participated in the debates that would lead to the establishment of the Royal Institute for the Advancement of Learning (RIAL), a body designed to establish a formal educational system in the colony.

    McGill took great care of the welfare of others, including his step-children and the orphan daughter of a friend.

    This ecumenical and generous spirit manifested itself in his final will, which, after his death in 1813, revealed a bequest to the RIAL for the founding of a college.

    Spurred on by the gift, the RIAL became the governing body for McGill College, which was officially established in 1821.


    In conclusion, I sincerely think that the Canadien-Scottish’s Chair is an invaluable contribution to celebrate James McGill’s heritage and to the diversity of our Canadian experience.

    Hope you enjoyed the news!

    Take care and talk soon,


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