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Rev. George Monro Grant


Grant Rev. George Monro, D.D., Principal of Queen's University and College, Kingston, Ontario, was born on the 22nd December, 1835, at Stellarton (Albion Mines), a village situated on the East River, in the County of Pictou, Nova Scotia. His father, who was a native of Scotland, taught a school in the village where our distinguished subject was born and reared. He was respected by those who knew him for his fine abilities and uprightness of character. The family removed to Pictou, and young George Monro attended the academy of that town. It is said that he was not remarkable for close application to study, but that he could master his books with very little difficulty. "He was," says an authority, "fonder of play than of his lessons, and always ready for a play, a scramble, or a holiday, or a fight at a moment's notice. He was ambitious and pugnacious, and had several perilous adventures such as do not commonly fall to a boy's lot. On one occasion he was thrown into the East River, at Pictou, by a big boy with whom he had been fighting, and to whom he refused to acknowledge himself beaten. His antogonist left him to scramble out of the river or drown as luck might have it... He and some of his playfellows, for the mere love of mischief, were experimenting with a hay cutter, in the absence of its owner Young Grant's right hand was caught by the knife and taken completely off... The deprivation has never seriously inconvenienced him, and he has been known to say, 'I do not know what I would do with a second hand if I had it.'" He bore away the Primrose medal from the Pictou academy. In his sixteenth year he entered the West River Seminary of the Presbyterian church of Nova Scotia, receiving his instruction in classics and philosophy at the hands of the able Professer Ross, afterwards president of Dalhousie college, Halifax. He remained in the seminary for two years and was elected by the committee of the Synod of Nova Scotia as one of four bursars to be sent to the University of Glasgow, to be fitted for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. Just as he had attained his eighteenth year he proceeded to Scotland. His career at the university was characterized by singular success. He took the highest honours in philosophy, and also carried off first prizes in classics, moral philosophy and chemistry, and the second prize in logic. In divinity he took the Lord Rector's prize of thirty guineas for the best essay on Hindoo literature and philosophy. When his studies were completed, he was ordained a minister of the Church of Scotland, and upon his return to Canada he was appointed a missionary in his native County of Pictou. Here all the wonderful energy of his nature, his zeal and brilliancy, began to manifest themselves. In a little while, however, a wider sphere of usefulness was opened for him in Prince Edward Island, and here he laboured for two years with the most marked success. In May, 1863, he was inducted into the pastorate of St. Matthew's Church, Halifax, which he retained until his appointment, in 1877, to his present position at the head of the University of Queen's college at Kingston. During his fourteen years of ecclesiastical labours, the work he accomplished was very great. He has been a director of Dalhousie college, a trustee of the Theological seminary, a member of the various committees of presbytery and synod, and a persistent, energetic advocate of Presbyterian union. The Principalship of this University gave our subject the very scope that he needed for the exercise of his great energy and capacity for organization. A new flow of warm, thrilling blood was infused by this appointment into Queen's, and it liberally bounded forward into a place among the foremost universities of Canada. In addition to the splendid success achieved here, Principal Grant now began to give much of his attention to public and literary topics. In the summer of 1872 he accompanied Mr. Sandford Fleming on a tour across the continent, inspecting the location of the Canadian Pacific line. The party left Toronto on the 16th July, 1872, and reached Victoria, British Columbia, on the 9th of October following. The result of this journey was the book, "Ocean to Ocean," a work of wide grasp, close observation, and a poetic flavour from plain and mountains. For Good Words Dr. Grant wrote a series of articles on the great North-West, and he contributed to the Canadian Monthly, the Maritime Monthly, The Contemporary Review, and Seribner's Magazine, able and interesting papers, with observations on his travel, and with respect to our great international highway. His pen is still active in the various publications in Canada, and now and again his voice is heard from the pages of the Century Magazine. He has in these later years fought with singular ability and with success the battle of university consolidation, showing the wisdom and the fitness of the maintenance of the Queen's and similar well-equipped institutions, according to their present status as autonomous Universities.


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