As the looming prospect of war overtook Canada and the world in the years leading up to 1914, hundreds of McGill students and staff stood at arms, forming a McGill Provisional Battalion. By 1916, six such battalions had been organized and McGill had also played a major role in the production of two field hospitals.
By the end of the First World War, more than 3,000 McGillians had enlisted and fought, and 363 had lost their lives. The Faculty of Engineering was hit hardest – of the 363 men who died, 250 were prospective engineers.
McGillians collectively earned 791 military decorations, and a plaque in the entrance hall of the Macdonald Engineering building commemorates the historical legacy of military, public and community service that these students and soldiers pioneered.