McGill to celebrate its Scottish antecedents

Hon Docs, granite benches to mark ties to Glasgow and Edinburgh

By McGill Reporter Staff

In case you haven’t been listening, McGill has a pretty strong connection to Scotland. James McGill, who founded McGill in 1821, was born in Glasgow in 1744. The University’s educational links can be traced back 200 years to the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, where a host of McGill’s early principals and builders, including James McGill himself, were educated.

Over the years, these ties have been strengthened through a shared commitment to the internationalization of education, expressed through a host of research collaborations and student exchanges.

To honour this shared history, McGill will award honorary doctorates to Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, and to Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, during Convocation next month.

But long after the Convocation tent has been packed away for another year, these longstanding links will continue to be celebrated through the installation in James Square of three new benches made of granite that was quarried in Scotland, near Aberdeen, and prepared by Fyfe Glenrock of Aberdeen.

The design exercise of the benches starts with three simple granite blocks, 144-cm by 48-cm by 40-cm, each of which is subdivided and cut into three separate but unequal pieces. Each set of three pieces is then reassembled by Atelier Formaviva of Montreal, but in a way that develops three very different benches.

The result is a playful composition of three benches representing three universities, each made of three pieces of the same stone, all three similar, like siblings, but each unique in form and expression. The three benches will be placed on each of the three landings of the Square’s stairway.

Replicas of the three Scottish stone benches, made of Quebec granite, will be placed on a ‘mirror’ site at Macdonald College, as a complement to the installation on the main campus.