McGill 20 questions

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McGill Reporter
January 10, 2008 - Volume 40 Number 09
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McGill 20 Questions

So here it is, early 2008 and, if you're like most people, you're probably still suffering from a case of the post-holiday lethargy triggered by too much egg nog and turkey. With that in mind, we at the McGill Reporter have devised a little quiz designed to rouse your slumbering grey matter without over-taxing it. Think you know a lot about McGill? Let's see how good you are.

In addition to 15,000 pounds and land, merchant James McGill left his summer cottage to establish a college in Montreal. The first classes were held in his former home. What was its name?


Burnside Place. The present Burnside Hall takes its name from the original building.

While McGill was inaugurated in 1829 when it took over the Montreal Medical School, it did not admit its own students until 1843. Excluding the medical faculty, how many students and professors were at McGill in its first year?

  1. 4 professors, 18 students
  2. 4 professors, 10 students
  3. 2 professors, 3 students


c. Two professors, three students. Two of the students were nephews of the Principal.

Head of the McGill Medical Faculty until 1842, William Robertson offered future Lower Canada Rebellion leader Louis-Jospeh Papineau what in 1832?

  1. A scholarship
  2. A duel
  3. A professorship


b. Papineau had accused Robertson, in his capacity as city magistrate, of ordering troops to fire on a mob, killing two people. Papineau refused Robertson's challenge to a duel.

Galt Macdermot has composed such numbers as "Let the Sun Shine In" and "Aquarius," winning two Grammys and a Tony in the process. But his first hit, written with fellow McGill students Timothy Porteous, Donald MacSween and Erik Wang, was a McGill musical that premiered in 1957 in Moise Hall. What was it called?


My Fur Lady — a musical satire, the show played 402 dates across Canada.

Who was the first McGill grad to become Prime Minister of Canada?


Although Sir Wilfrid Laurier is the best-known grad to lead Canada's government, the first was Sir John J.C. Abbott (BCL 1854, DCL 1867). The third man to hold the post (1891-92) is also notable for being Canada's first native-born Prime Minister.

McGill physics professor Ernest Rutherford demonstrated the nature of radioctivty with his famous "gold foil" experiment. In what category did he win the Nobel Prize?


Ironically, the man who once said "In science there is only physics; all the rest is stamp collecting," was given the ultimate scientific accolade in chemistry.

What is McGill's motto? What does it mean?


Grandescunt Aucta Labore—By work, all things increase and grow." So what, pray tell, are you doing wasting time doing a trivia quiz?

When the Quebec Chronicle Telegraph wrote, in 1946, "You send your boy to McGill a Canadian democrat and he graduates as an international communist." To what 1945-46 scandal was it referring?


The Igor Gouzenko affair. When the Russian cipher clerk exposed a spy ring in Canada, he implicated several McGill grads. Professor Raymond Boyer was convicted of passing military secrets to the Soviet Union.

Which major Canadian university was founded in 1906 as a college of McGill?


The University of British Columbia was originally the McGill University College of British Columbia.

McGill has granted only one person two honorary degrees. Who was it?

  1. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
  2. Philanthropist Sir William Macdonald
  3. Professor Maude Abbott


c. Maude Abbott was awarded an honorary MD in 1910 and an LLD in 1936, after a long career as an international authority on congenital heart disease. Ironically, Abbott had to fight tooth and nail in the 1880s to be admitted to McGill's medical school.

In 1944, Principal Cyril James made a last-minute trip to Quebec City to bestow two honorary degrees. Who were the recipients?


Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. The two men were in Quebec to discuss the war in the Pacific and the future of post-war Germany.

Hugh's Hugh? Who is McGill's Humanities Library named for?

  1. Hugh Maclennan, author
  2. Hugh McLennan, businessman
  3. Hugh McLennan, soldier
  4. None of the above


d. None of the above. Famed author and English professor Hugh Maclennan (d. 1990) is honoured with an annual lecture. Businessman Hugh McLennan (d. 1901) was a long-serving McGill governor and Montreal merchant who bequeathed a fund for a traveling library. Hugh McLennan (d. 1915) was a Senator who was killed at Ypres; he has an architecture scholarship named for him. So, Hugh the heck is the McLennan Humanities Library named for? Why, Isabella McLennan, wife of the McGill governor and merchant.

Gerald Bull, a McGill grad and researcher, attempted to design a giant gun that would propel a vehicle into space. He managed to send an unmanned vehicle 100 km into the atmosphere. What was that vehicle called?


The Martlet 2, named after the mythical bird that graces the McGill crest. Bull is believed to have been assassinated for trying to sell the technology to Saddam Hussein.

In addition to membership in the Front de Liberation du Québec cell that kidnapped James Cross in 1970, Nigel Hamer was also a member of what organization?

  1. The Yellow Door
  2. The McGill Senate
  3. The McGill Daily


b. Hamer was a student representative on McGill's Senate in 1968.

Match the book to the McGill prof:

  1. The Torch—""Love, treachery, and a battle for truth in ancient Greece."
  2. Raven, Creator of the World: Eskimo Legends
  3. The Unsolved Riddle of Social Injustice
  4. Bavarian Shrine and Other Poems
  1. Stephen Leacock, humorist
  2. Wilder Penfield, neurosurgeon
  3. Eric Ormsby, professor, Islamic Studies
  4. Ronald Melzak, pioneer pain researcher


a–ii, (It is a historical novel about Hippocrates),
b-iv, (A children's book),
c-i, (Leacock was, after all, an economist),
d-iii (Ormsby has won numerous awards for his poetry, in addition to being a highly respected scholar on Islamic thought)

In addition to the highest academic standards and international reputations, what did Princeton and McGill have in common from 1994-2001?


Blood ties: the twin brother of Principal Bernard Shapiro (1994-2004) was President of Princeton from 1988-2001. Bernard received an honorary degree from Princeton in 2000, returning the favour we had bestowed on Harold in 1988.

What, aside from their McGill connection, do football's Yates Cup, former professor Alice Vibert-Douglas, graduate and doctor Edith Levy, and graduate and astronaut Dave Williams have in common?


All have asteroids named after them, joining McGill's own interplanetary namesake, named by Dave Levy, Edith's son.

Medical graduate Thomas Neill Cream (1876) was executed in 1892 in London for the murder of four prostitutes. What were his final words before being hanged?


"I am Jack..." It is believed that he intended to finish "...the Ripper" before being rudely interrupted by the noose.

In 1958, Dr. Lyman Francis was appointed the Faculty of Dentistry's first full-time researcher. What had he been in his previous career?


An acrobat. Handy, perhaps, for jumping through the hoops of grant applications.

What product bearing McGill's crest was sold to raise funds for the Currie Gym in the 1930s?


Cigarettes. The cheery red and white packages were sold by Macdonald Tobacco as an innovative response to a funding crunch during the 1930s.

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