Macdonald was born in Tracadie, Prince Edward Island in 1831. He was
at the Central Academy in Charlottetown, now known as the University of
PE.I. and later moved to Montreal were he earned a considerable fortune
as a tobacco manufacturer. He was knighted in 1898 by Queen Victoria
his vast contributions, mainly in the education field.
William was a very
generous philanthropist and a great believer in the educational
of James Wilson Robertson. They felt that children could be
offered a better education if small rural schools were consolidated.
this in mind, Macdonald funded the building and equipment for four
schools in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and
The first one built was the Macdonald Consolidated School in Middleton,
N.S. in 1903.
across Canada. He also founded McGill University's Macdonald
College in 1905 and served as Chancellor or McGill for many years. He
married and died in Montreal on June 9, 1917, leaving his tobacco
to the Stewart brothers, Walter and Howard, who were longtime employees
and the sons of Macdonald's "right hand man", manager David Stewart.
legacy of Sir William
is still at work through the Macdonald Stewart Foundation based in
The Foundation contributed funds to build a greenhouse at the south end
of the Macdonald school in 1975 and provided financial assistance to
the school into the Macdonald Museum in the early 1980s.