McGill University Archives Home McGill University Gateway About the University Archives
Outreach [10kb]
left_corner Reference Services Records Management Archival Resources Outreach Site Help
Home > Outreach > McGill History Portal > McGill History > Campus Life : Victory: The Return Home
Outreach, McGill History
Back to McGill History   Back to Campus Life

McGill Remembers WWII
  1. Students to Soldiers
  2. Portraits of Soldiers
  3. The Home Front
  4. Victory: The Return Home
Following Victory Day in Europe (May 8, 1945) and Japan (August 15, 1945), thousands of jovial citizens streamed into the streets of Montreal. Similarly, there were over a thousand returning veterans enrolling at McGill University, which, consequently, threatened to swamp the university’s faculties.

Video: Click to play video of Principal F. Cyril James greets returning veterans to McGill University.

In order to accommodate this influx, Principal F. Cyril James secured a lease for a former R.C.A.F. base, built in 1940-41, at St-Jean, Quebec.

Source: MUA Photo Collection, PR001091, Victory Day Parade, Ste-Catherine Street.

Dawson College, named for former McGill Principal Sir William Dawson, was opened on September 26, 1945. All first year students in Science and Engineering as well as some second year students from these faculties attended the college.

Source: Vincent M. Jolivet and D.H. Kennedy, Engineering Essay: Dawson College, 1945-1950. Aerial view [of Dawson College] from south.

Dawson was a residential college with accommodations for the returning veterans as well as for their spouses and children. The boisterous spirit of the returning veterans animated Dawson College and manifested itself through enthusiastic support of clubs, social events and athletic teams as well as a tendency towards practical jokes. The inscription of "Dawson---Montreal branch" on the student ice place of the McGill downtown campus and the crowning of Betty, a Saint Bernard dog, as Queen of Dawson were two well known examples of this humor.

Source: Vincent M. Jolivet and D.H. Kennedy, Engineering Essay: Dawson College, 1945-1950. Student giving blood to Red Cross. Source: Vincent M. Jolivet and D.H. Kennedy, Engineering Essay: Dawson College, 1945-1950. Queen of Dawson College: Betty, the Saint Bernard dog.

The student population of Dawson College peaked in 1947 with 1687 students but fell off to 654 by 1950 when it was closed. In all over 5600 students, chiefly veterans attended Dawson College. The college was presided over by a Vice-Principal and administered by other McGill staff including a secretary and assistant bursar and a superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. Due to its isolation, the College also had a fire department and a small hospital. The last Vice-Principal of Dawson, W.H. Hatcher, commented on the closing in 1950 saying it was "the end of McGill’s most daring and successful educational experiment in one hundred years"

Source: R.C. Fetherstonhaugh's McGill University at War 1914-1918;1939-1945. Chemical Laboratory, Dawson College.




Back to top Contact the Web Manager
This Web page last updated November 11 , 2005 | McGill Secretariat | McGill University , © 2005