Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
January 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


James McGill



McGill, James (1744-1814), merchant and philanthropist, was born in Glasgow , Scotland , on October 6, 1744, the eldest son of James McGill, a merchant of Glasgow. He matriculated into Glasgow University in 1756, but it does not appear that he graduated from the University. He emigrated to the American colonies, and engaged in the fur-trade. He later became a charter member of the Beaver Club of Montreal; and the date of his Beaver Club medal reveals the fact that he first wintered in the Indian country in 1766. He spent the winter of 1771 at Crow Wing river, west of Fond du Lac . He made Montreal his headquarters about 1774; and he was a party to the joint stock arrangement of the western traders in 1775. He entered into partnership with Isaac Todd, and played for many years a foremost part in the Canadian fur trade. He was never, as has been sometimes stated, a member of the North West Company; but after 1779 confined himself to the south-west trade. From 1792 to 1796, and from 1800 to 1804, he represented the West Ward of Montreal in the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada; and in 1793 he was appointed a member of the Executive Council of the province. He died at Montreal on December 12, 1813 ; and a large part of his estate was left by will to found McGill University. In 1776 he married Charlotte, daughter of Guillaume Guillemin, and widow of François des Rivières. See J. W. Dawson, A biographical sketch of James McGill (Barnard's American Journal of Education, 1859).


Source : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada , Vol. IV, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 400p., p. 179.



© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College