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Eakin Family

The Eakin Family
The Eakin Family; all proud McGill graduates and one future graduate (Back Row, left to right); John Burgess, Bill Eakin (Middle Row) Penny Eakin, Lalai Manjikian, Sevak Manjikian, Margo Plant, Desmond Morton (Front Row) Gael Eakin, Brenda Plant, Jay Burgess and baby Aiden Burgess.

The Faculty of Arts and the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC) are pleased to announce the Eakin Visiting Fellowship in Canadian Studies created with the generous support of the Eakin Family in memory of William R. Eakin, BA'31, B.C.L.'34.

The Fellowship is awarded to high level scholars focusing on studies related to Canada with the capacity to impact upon interdisciplinary teaching and research at the University. Dynamic applicants from outside the academy will also be eligible. The fellow will be expected to teach at least one undergraduate course in Canadian Studies, deliver the annual Eakin Lecture (part of the Distinguished Lectures Series), participate in the activities of the MISC, and pursue exchanges with colleagues at McGill and other institutions.


Gael Eakin remembers her father, Bill Eakin, as a devoted family man with a great sense of humour. "An Irish sense of humour," says Gael, describing the clever wit he brought to both business and family affairs.

A graduate of le Collège St-Joseph de Berthier, Ashbury College and McGill University, William was one of our most accomplished and dedicated alum. Gael recalls her father's deep ties to McGill and says he remained close friends with his fellow alum till the end. "They met every single year for dinner and together raised lots of money for McGill," she says. "Most of them became quite distinguished in their careers."

After Bill was called to the Quebec Bar in 1935, he went on to read law at McMaster-Meighen in 1938 and later joined the shipping firm of McLean Kennedy Ltd as a working director in Canada, Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands. He was commissioned in the Victoria Rifles of Canada in 1934, and during the Second World War he served in Canada, Newfoundland and Northwest Europe, retiring with the rank of major and a mention in dispatches. Bill was a member of the Council of the Montreal Board of Trade, the Canadian Export Association, the Shipping Council of Canada, the McGill Graduates Society and of the Board of Governors of McGill University from 1970, which he served as Chairman.

Gael says her father was deeply proud that all his children and extended family had all graduated with at least one degree from his alma mater. The Eakin Visiting Fellowship in Canadian Studies was a loving tribute to a father, grandfather and great-grandfather who cherished his relationship with McGill and simply "loved Canada."


The Faculty of Arts wishes to thank the Eakin Family for its longstanding commitment to McGill over the years. Your leadership role has made a lasting impact on McGill’s capacity to shape the future of McGill University.

Learn more about the Eakin Visiting Fellowship in Canadian Studies here.