Returning to McGill

Stephen Borys, Director and CEO, exhibition curator

In the spring of 2012, I made the first of three research trips to Montreal and Quebec City for the 100 Masters loan negotiations. Having completed my doctoral work at McGill University, I was well acquainted with the various collections in Montreal and looked forward to having the museums represented in the exhibition. The McCord Museum, for many years administered by McGill, and still responsible for the care and management of the university’s Canadian history collections, remains Montreal’s foremost history museum. David Ross McCord, the museum’s founder, spared no expense in assembling his national collection. James Duncan’s panoramic painting Montreal from the Mountain, executed almost fifty years before Ross established his museum, matches the calibre of the collector’s superb taste. Christian Vachon, curator of paintings, prints, and drawings, presented a number of works for consideration including paintings by Cornelius Krieghoff, William Berczy, and other Quebec painters. However, the splendid view of Montreal by Duncan remained one of his first choices, and mine as well.

James Duncan, Montreal from the Mountain, c. 1830–1831, Oil on canvas, 150.5 x 241.9 cm. Gift of Mr. William D. Lighthall. M966.61. Lent by: McCord Museum, Montréal




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