James McGill (1744 – 1813)

University Founder

Very simply, he’s the man whose vision and generosity led to the creation of the University. A successful fur trader and one of the wealthiest men in Montreal, he went on to become a member of the Legislative Assembly for the Colony of Lower Canada. As a legislator, he participated in the debates that led to the establishment of the Royal Institute for the Advancement of Learning (RIAL). He left a bequest to the RIAL with instructions that a college should be formed. The RIAL became the governing body for McGill College, which was established in 1821. He’s the Greatest McGillian because, well…without him, one of the world’s top universities would simply not exist.