Great-grandmother graduated from McGill in 1911
By Amanda De Souza
In 1884, McGill history was made when women were first admitted to the Faculty of Arts. Since then, the University has been the training ground for some of the country’s most remarkable and influential women. Four members of a single family – Florence Reid, Marjorie Reith and Michelle and Diana Stern – are part of this esteemed group.
Spanning over four generations, these women have collectively contributed to McGill’s diverse mosaic of graduates for exactly one century. Florence Reid graduated from McGill in 1911 with a Bachelor of Arts and now, one hundred years later, her great- granddaughter Diana is preparing to walk the stage in June during this year’s Convocation ceremonies, when she will receive her Bachelor of Arts degree.
The significance of the moment is not lost on Diana.
“I feel very proud. It is a huge honour to say I am graduating one hundred years after my great- grandmother – and to be joining my grandmother and sister,” she said. “The McGill legacy is very important to me and my family.”
Florence Reid attended McGill from 1907-11, where she was taught by one of the University’s most influential figures, Professor Steven Leacock. A century later, Michelle and Diana took classes in the Stephen Leacock Building, sometimes in the lecture hall named after him.
Florence’s daughter, Marjorie, enrolled at McGill during a time when many students had suspended their studies to serve Canada in WWII. Reid attended the University from 1939-44, graduating with a B.A. in French, Spanish and German Languages.
Marjorie has fond memories of McGill. “I remember the beautiful walk up from the Roddick Gates to the Arts Building, large classes in Moyse Hall and watching the young men practice football on lower field,” she said.
Actively involved in student life, Marjorie wrote for the McGill Daily. The paper’s office was then in the Student Union building on Sherbrooke, since transformed into the McCord Museum. After graduation, she got married, built a career at Bell Canada, and raised four children.
Nothing has made her happier than sharing her alma mater with her family. “I was thrilled to hear my granddaughters had chosen to attend McGill,” she said. “My mother would have been so proud to see her great-granddaughters graduating from the same university. They are such ambitious and intelligent young women.”
The next generation
For their part, the family’s newest set of McGill alumnae share their grandmother’s enthusiasm for life as a student. “Campus life was always very busy, yet at the same time [ours] felt like an intimate group,” said Michelle, a BCom ’09 graduate.
“It is amazing to think that the McGill I heard about from my great-grandmother and grandmother has evolved in to the McGill I know today,” said Diana. “I love hearing about their time at McGill. It’s so interesting to see how we shared some of the same experiences but in such different ways so many years later.”