THE MCGILL REMEMBERS PROJECT


In April 2005 staff members Prof. Christopher Milligan (Faculty of Education) and Wes Cross (Student Services) created a website to mark McGill’s participants in the Second World War as part of Canada’s Year of the Veteran activities. The website drew interest from the community and helped remind the campus of the richness of the University’s contribution to the war effort.

As a result the McGill Remembers Roundtable was formed, comprised of individuals with connections to both McGill and the field of history. Roundtable discussions have centered on the various elements of McGill’s history that marked the era, and how best to share the information, art and architecture with the public.

Part of the McGill history included the Memorial Hall & Pool opened in 1950 as a result of the fund raising campaign begun in 1944 by the University and Alumni Association. A unique building on campus containing plaques, flags, paintings and McGill’s Book of Remembrance, it served as a gathering point for various ceremonies, most notably Remembrance Day. While not forgotten, the Hall has fallen into disuse in recent decades and the inevitable deterioration has set in.

In the McGill University Archives (MUA) the individual records of over 6,000 McGill students and staff were found, compiled by R.C. Fetherstonhaugh of the McGill War Record Office.  These files contained press clippings, photos, letters and dispatches for each of the known McGill participants, both military and civilian from World War Two. The example set by the
University of Glasgow among others indicated that there was a keen public interest in such records, and it would be an important step if McGill could make these carefully compiled files available to a wider audience.

The Roundtable agreed that the University should pursue a number of steps to rehabilitate the Memorial Hall, and increase its role in the community and, at the same time, endeavor to share the various elements of the archival records. Beyond the paper records held by the MUA, there are also paintings, stained glass windows,sculptures and other objects. The Roundtable also agreed that the range of the McGill Remembers effort should be increased to include other eras, most notably the role played by the University in the First World War, Boer War and other major events. It was also important to capture the contribution of later McGill contributors  such as those alumni who participated in peace-keeping and development operations in the more recent past.

The initial efforts in this regard have been:
            -creation of the McGill Remembers website,
            -creation of a McGill Archives war records collection website
            -Presentations regarding the project to various groups 
            -seeking funding through donations and grants to support the project                      
 
Much work lies ahead, and the Roundtable has identified the following possibilities:
             -acquire funding from private & government sources for:
                        -development of Memorial Hall (exhibit space, interactive displays)
              -dissemination of material via the Web
             -expansion of web possibilities (alumni contributions of memories)
             -Promotion of individual students stories from the collections
           
-investigation of a national program involving other institutions with similar record collections

         Contact us via email:  mcgillremembers@mcgill.ca

McGill Remembers  Roundtable Members
  • John Cleghorn, Board Of Governors (Honourary Chair)
  • Gordon Burr, University Archives
  • Wes Cross. Student Services
  • Dr. Stanley Frost, Professor Emeritus (deceased)
  • Prof. Desmond Morton,  Professor Emeritus
  • Prof. Peter McNally,   History of McGill Project
  • Prof. Carman Miller, Dept. of History
  • Pamela Miller, Osler Library
  • Dr. Chris Milligan,  Faculty of Education (retired)
  • Thomas Thompson, Development and Alumni Relations (retired)

Financial & Resource  Support
  • John and Pattie Cleghorn
  • Royal Canadian Legion, (Dominion Executive)
  • Howard Stutt
  • Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor
  • University Services, McGill University
  • McCord Museum

Project Recognition
The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada