McGill University, for the Advancement of Learning: Volume II, 1895-1971


493 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-7735-0422-2




Reviewed by George G. Ambury

George G. Ambury is an associate professor of adult education at
Queen’s University.


This volume continues Frost’s study of the development of McGill from the end of what might be called the McGill College era to the University’s celebration of its sesquicentennial in 1971. The author appears to move from the hypothesis that it is people who make history, and this work is primarily the story of the people who made McGill: students, faculty, administrators, and benefactors.

He begins by describing the struggles and triumphs of the small Anglophone Protestant university as its leaders sought to keep it on the path toward national and international recognition. Then the story is told of the establishment of the various departments, schools, and institutes in the post-war years. The author chooses 1960 as a water-shed year dividing the old McGill from the new. By 1961, government funding was increasing, a period of exponential growth in student population had begun, and the Parent commission was established. The 1960s were turbulent years for the University as it sought to establish itself in the provincial post-secondary milieu and as it was shaken by the critical analysis and activism of a minority of students and faculty. However, writes Frost, “the social complacencies of the 1970s may be seen as more damaging to the ideal of the university than the iconoclasms of the period of student revolt” (p.464).

The author has an impeccable style of writing based on thorough research of the subject and almost 30 years of teaching in the University. While he seeks to offend no one, living on dead, he manages an eminently readable presentation of a significant historical study.


Frost, Stanley Brice, “McGill University, for the Advancement of Learning: Volume II, 1895-1971,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,