The original McGill College Herbarium was founded in 1856 with a gift of more than 500 plant specimens collected in the Montreal region in the early 1820s by A. F. Holmes, one of the founders and first head of the McGill medical faculty. These records are among the earliest collected in Canada. In 1907, McGill founded a second herbarium at Macdonald College with a donation of specimens from John Macoun to be used for teaching in the Faculty of Agriculture. The Macdonald College herbarium subsequently developed extensive collections from the circumpolar arctic and subarctic through the research activities of students and staff, as well as exchanges with herbaria in Copenhagen and Leningrad. The McGill College Herbarium and the Macdonald College Herbarium were united into a combined university herbarium in 1971, at which time all plant specimens were moved to Macdonald Campus. As a result of the merger, the herbarium numbered nearly 90,000 specimens. It has since grown to more than 140,000 plant specimens that document the research activities of McGill staff and students over the past century and serve as a rich source of research material for biologists.
Read on for more information on the diverse set of 19th-century collections housed within the McGill Herbarium.