Sir Edward Beatty, a legacy of service as Chancellor

As Chancellor from 1921 to 1943, Sir Edward Beatty worked with four McGill Principals and helped propel McGill past countless milestones – from the boom, bust and war years to the opening of McGill’s Montreal Neurological Institute and the establishment of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, to name just a few. He also established several annual student scholarships at McGill.

Although Beatty was President of the Canadian Pacific Railway for two decades, he held education above material gain. “What are the qualifications for success? What will be the evidence that the years spent within these walls have not been wasted?” he asked the graduating class of 1934. “Not wealth. Not visible and material success as the world has measured it in my lifetime.”

“I suggest to you that your generation will be wiser than those who preceded you, and that you will know that success is but another name for happiness and that happiness lies within the reach of every human being.” This belief in youth also revealed itself in his service as President of the Boy Scouts of Canada, from which he received the Order of the Silver Wolf – its highest award.

Beatty served as Chancellor until his death from heart failure in 1943, at the age of 65. But his legacy of service to the School he loved lived on.

As former McGill Principal F. Cyril James remarked after his passing, “One of the greatest Canadians is gone from us. His deep interest in education, and his wise counsel, have contributed to the University in such measure that no man knows the true sum of his accomplishments.”

In 1952, McGill received a gift from Dr. Henry A. Beatty to launch an annual lecture in his late brother’s honour. The Beatty Lecture remains one of the most prominent McGill events to this day.