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Sir William Christopher Macdonald
1831- 1917
Sir William C. Macdonald


Sir William Christopher Macdonald was born in Tracadie, Prince Edward Island in 1831. He was educated 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 for his vast contributions, mainly in the education field.

Sir William was a very generous philanthropist and a great believer in the educational philosophies of  James Wilson Robertson.  They felt that children could be offered a better education if small rural schools were consolidated. With this in mind, Macdonald funded the building and equipment for four consolidated schools in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Ontario. The first one built was the Macdonald Consolidated School in Middleton, N.S. in 1903.

His generosity extended across Canada. He also founded McGill University's Macdonald Agricultural College in 1905 and served as Chancellor or McGill for many years. He never married and died in Montreal on June 9, 1917, leaving his tobacco company to the Stewart brothers, Walter and Howard, who were longtime employees and the sons of Macdonald's "right hand man", manager David Stewart.

The legacy of Sir William is still at work through the Macdonald Stewart Foundation based in Montreal. The Foundation contributed funds to build a greenhouse at the south end of the Macdonald school in 1975 and provided financial assistance to transform the school into the Macdonald Museum in the early 1980s.

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