A Brief History of the Faculty of Arts 


Phase 1

The Faculty of Arts welcomed its first students when the first edifice purpose-built for McGill College officially opened on September 6, 1843. This opening ceremony was the long-awaited product of a Royal Charter that Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General of Canada, had granted in 1821 on behalf of King George IV, providing for the establishment […]


Phase 2

Donald Alexander Smith (later Lord Strathcona and McGill’s Chancellor between 1889 and 1914), donated $120,000 to McGill in 1884 on condition that the university open its degree programs to women. He was very specific in his request that women be afforded the same standard of education as men. The first class of female students were dubbed the “Donaldas” in his honour. The group graduated in 1888, all with […]


Phase 3

The natural sciences had their own needs distinct from those of the humanities and social science departments, but they did not want to break away from Arts entirely. The solution reached in 1931 was to rename the Faculty the Faculty of Arts and Science, with two deans sharing the leadership, one for Arts and one for Science. This awkward arrangement, with its potential for […]

1971 - Present

Phase 4

In 1971, under Principal Robert Bell, McGill celebrated its 150th Anniversary, making the Faculty of Arts 128 years old. The Faculty celebrated with several events, including a Sesquicentennial Drama Production entitled “A Regency Playbill of 1821,” consisting of three plays performed in Montreal during the year of McGill’s founding, a lecture series, and a range of open […]


Notable People

Notable Faculty of Arts People Zbigniew Brzezinski Brzezinski (1928-2017), diplomat and political scientist, was born in Warsaw in 1928 and moved to Montreal ten years later when his father was appointed as a consul general there. He received a BA in 1949 and an MA in 1950 at McGill. He completed his PhD at Harvard […]