J.W. McConnell and the Chancellorship of McGill University, 1942–3

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J.W. McConnell and the Chancellorship of McGill University, 1942–3
J.W. McConnell (1877–1963) was one of the most successful Canadian businessmen of his time, and possibly the richest man in Canada for much of his life. A promoter of stocks early in his career, he soon became a major industrialist and investor. He was president of St. Lawrence Sugar Refineries Limited for almost fifty years and publisher of the Montreal Daily Star and other newspapers for almost twenty-five. Among the companies of which he was a major shareholder were the International Nickel Company of Canada, Brazilian Traction, Montreal Tramways, Montreal Light, Heat and Power, Ogilvie Flour Mills, Canada Steamship Lines, and Borden. His reputation spread to Wall Street and the City of London, not only for his business acumen but also for his great generosity to medical and educational causes. He was one of the principal founders of the Montreal Neurological Institute. From 1909 to 1927, he was one of the most effective fundraisers in the country, for the YMCA, the war effort through Victory Loans, and the hospitals of Montreal. And for the remainder of his life he was the most generous contributor to good causes in Montreal if not in Canada as a whole. With Lord Strathcona and Sir William Macdonald, he became one of the three greatest benefactors of McGill University. After the death of Sir Edward Beatty, the Chancellor of the university, in 1943, McConnell was a natural candidate to succeed him. The board of governors, who were responsible for choosing a new Chancellor, were nearly all businessmen like him, and his assumption of the post would have been indeed in the tradition of James Ferrier, Strathcona, Macdonald and Beatty. But McConnell did not become Chancellor, and the author recounts the story of why he did not. In abbreviated form, this story was published in chapter 17 of the author's 2008 biography of McConnell. This article however presents considerably more detail.
Vol. 13
Fong, William. “J.W. McConnell and the Chancellorship of McGill University, 1942–3.” Fontanus Vol. 13 (2013): 81–94. http://fontanus.mcgill.ca/article/view/254.
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