Like many universities, McGill University of Quebec published an “Honour Roll” to recognize its graduates who fought for their country in World War One. Memorializing the students – past and present - who served allows family historians to make an invaluable connection between their civilian and military lives.
A common practice for universities and colleges across Canada, the United States, and Great Britain, schools often commemorated the students who served in the military in various engagements around the world. This publication lists students from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, starting first with those who died as a result of that service. Most of the entries include photographs and include both current students and those who have already passed through the university program. McGill University formed the McGill Officers’ Training Corps in 1912. This existing program meant that students and graduates were quick to incorporate additional efforts for the war on campus almost immediately in the autumn of 1914. A “provisional battalion” was formed and the campus itself was utilized for drills. When students arrived for the fall term, undergraduates were then able to enlist and they were quickly able to enlarge the Officers’ Training Corps and merge it with the ‘provisional battalion’. The combined numbers grew to 600-700 men of all ranks. From this effort, a consistent stream of officers were trained and joined in the active forces of the Allies. McGill University was formed in 1821 under the name McGill College or University of McGill College; the name was officially changed in 1885 to McGill University. It remains an active and prestigious school today.
These records are fairly consistent and offer the following information:
Information on individuals who survived the war and those who enlisted in other ways, such as with the US Army, is more limited.
You can directly learn more about the activities of the Canadian forces during World War I by utilizing the Canada publication on Findmypast. Covering the year of 1916, this monthly publication was distributed directly to the men, and listed news from home, alongside lists of wounded, killed, missing in action, and activities across all divisions of the military. Also available are histories and publications for individual units, such as the
2nd Canadian Heavy Battery. Canada – May 1916 and similar in the All Record Sets page on Findmypast.
James Naismith, the creator of the game of basketball, attended McGill University and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1887. While there, he played football, lacrosse, rugby, soccer and was a recognized gymnast. He was the first director of athletics at McGill. He is enlisted in the American Army, serving as the Chaplain in the First Kansas Infantry and later with the YMCA, serving in France as a lecturer of “moral conditions and sex education” immediately following the war. He passed away in 1939, but saw basketball become an official event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
John Edisforth Reddy Barrett was born in Montreal on 31 December 1894 and entered McGill in 1912. He enlisted with the 5th Canadian Mountain Rifles and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He was killed in action at Sanctuary Wood on June 2, 1916, leaving behind his parents, John and Margaret Barrett, and two siblings: Margaret and Arthur.
Images courtesy Internet Archive. Transcription copyright Findmypast