The first Installation was a public event with invited representatives from government and the Montreal Medical Institution, and contained ceremonial elements that continue in later Installations.
McGill’s first Principal, Archdeacon George Jehoshaphat Mountain, was installed in a ceremony held during the meeting of the Governors of McGill College, on June 29th, 1829, in James McGill’s Burnside estate home. Under the 1821 Charter the Governors of the College included the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Lower Canada, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, the Chief Justices of Montreal and Upper Canada, the Lord Bishop of Quebec and the Principal of the College.
The minutes refer to McGill University’s first Charter granted in 1821 as being formally placed on a table in the centre of the room. The Lord Bishop of Quebec was first to address the meeting. He reviewed James McGill’s bequest, noting the condition that the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning (RIAL) was to receive the bequest when a College was established bearing James McGill's name. The Bishop added that, "...the Institution was to bear the name of its excellent founder, and he firmly hoped that it might prove a blessing to many generations yet to come, that it might tend to immortalize his name, and be the best monument that could be erected to his memory." Following the Bishop's address, the Rev. Dr. Mills, Secretary to the RIAL, then read at length the Charter of the College.
Principal Mountain, then rose and addressed the meeting, as recorded in the minutes by the secretary. "He could not but express his sense of his own unworthiness for such a distinguished Office, and he firmly hoped that he would be succeeded by a long line of eminent and learned Principals." The address referred to ongoing work on the model constitution and rules for the government of the College. The meeting concludes with the formal engrafting of the members of the Montreal Medical Institution.
Source: Minutes of the Governors of the University of McGill College, 29th June 1829-7th Nov. 1871. MUA RG 4, c. 5.