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The Presbyterian College, Montreal: Wikis


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The Presbyterian College, Montreal affiliated with McGill University
Established 1860s
Type Presbyterian College affiliated with Public university
Principal Rev. Dr. John A. Vissers, B.A. (Tor.), M.Div. (Knox, Tor.), Th.M. (Princeton), Th.D. (Knox, Tor.)
Faculty 7
Staff 5
Location Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Campus Urban
Downtown: 32 ha (80 acres)
Macdonald Campus: 6.5 km2 (1,600 acres) at McGill University
Colours blue      & Red     
Affiliations ATS, CUSID,

The Presbyterian College/Le Collège Presbytèrien, 3495 University Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, is a Theological College of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and is affiliated with McGill University through their Faculty of Religious Studies. Presbyterian College's Student base is from right across Canada, as well as from international students.



The Presbyterian College is a theological College of The Presbyterian Church in Canada. It is a member of the McGill University Consortium of theological colleges. The College's mission is to educate candidates for the ministry of The Presbyterian Church in Canada and to be a centre for education and research in Reformed theology.


  • General Assembly Certificate
  • Diploma in Lay Leadership
  • Diploma in Ministry
  • Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.)
  • Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
  • McGill Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.)
  • McGill Master of Sacred Theology degree (S.T.M.)
  • McGill Master of Arts (M.A.) degrees in Religious Studies
  • McGill Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Religious Studies


The official history of the college began in the early 1860s, but the date of 1865 is the benchmark as the Canada Presbyterian Church approved the request of the Presbytery, to compliment that denomination's only Theological College, Knox College, located in Toronto.

Lay leadership in this cause came from prominent Montrealers John Redpath and McGill Principal John William Dawson.

Classes began in the autumn of 1867 in the basement of Erskine Presbyterian Church in downtown Monreal, with Professor (later Principal) Donald Harvey MacVicar.

The College remained within the Presbyterian Church in Canada after church union, although most of the faculty departed. The 1925-1926 academic year was held from the Anglican Diocesian College, until the provincial Quebec Courts awarded the College back to the "continuing" Presbyterians.

During World War II, Presbyterian College was used for soldier training, and temporarily moved to Toronto, Ontario, and joined with Knox College, from 1943-1946.

Buildings and Features

The first building was completed in 1873, and located on McTavish Street. In 1882, the David Morrice Hall containing a large library, Dining Hall, Convocation Hall and offices and residences was completed. These building served the College until the 1950s.

By the 1950s, the older buildings were in need of repair; rather than embarking on lengthy renovations, Presbyterian College and McGill University transferred lands, the University took the McTavish Street site, and Presbyterian College constructed a new building on the corner of University Avenue and Milton Street, just north of Sherbrooke Street, and adjacent to aforementioned Diocesian College. The building was dedicated on April 28, 1963. The chapel, was renovated in the 1980s, then rebuilt following a fire in November 1990. In recent years, it has rented out two floors of its residences to act as dormitories for McGill University students.


In 1890, one of the Presbyterian College's most famous alumni graduated, in the person of James Naismith. He did not go to a congregation; instead, he went to serve with the YMCA in the United States. His invention of the sport of basketball, brought him back to Montreal, just before his 1939 death to receive the Honorary Doctor of Divinity.

Keith Markell's 1986 (posthumous) history of Presbyterian College cited some famous alumni; Most were in Canadian Church circles, including the first Moderator of the United Church of Canada, George C. Pidgeon.

Another alumnus, who like James Naismith (see above), gained a reputation away from the pastorate and/or academia, was John Weir Foote (1934 Graduate), a heroic World War II Chaplain, and later Ontario Cabinet Minister.

W. G. Brown (1902) was a minister who fought for the continuation of the PCC from Red Deer, Alberta, where he served from 1907-1925, then moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where he re-organized the Presbyterian Minority groups into St. Andrew's Church in Saskatoon; and died after he was elected to the Canadian Parliament in 1940.


In 1969, Presbyterian College entered into an agreement with McGill University Faculty of Religious Studies and the other Theological Colleges (United College and Diocesian College), that renewed an agreement made in 1912, that was dissolved following 1925. In 1981, the Institute de Théologie de Montréal was established, to provide teaching in French, although French courses had been provided from 1869-1925, and the College is known as The Presbyterian College/Le Collège Presbytèrien.


+Donald Harvey MacVicar* (1873-1902),

+John Scrimger* (1904-1915),

+D.H. Fraser (1916-1929),

+Francis Scott MacKenzie (1929-1945),

+Robert Lennox (1948-1969),

+William Klempa (1978-1998),

+John A. Vissers (1999-),

During the periods between settled Principals (especially 1969-1978), there were a number of "Acting Principals".

External links

Histories of the University

  • Robert Campbell, A History of the St. Gabriel Street Church, Montreal, 1887.
  • John H. MacVicar, The Life of Principal MacVicar, by His Son, 1904.
  • John. S. Moir, Enduring Witness, (Third Edition), 2004. (The Official History of the Presbyterian Church in Canada)
  • Dr. Stanley Frost.'The History of McGill in Relation to the Social, Economic and Cultural Aspects of Montreal and Quebec' (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1979).
  • Dr. Stanley Frost. 'McGill University: For the Advancement of Learning.' Vols I.(Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press © 1980)
  • Dr. Stanley Frost. 'McGill University: For the Advancement of Learning.' Vol II.(Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press © 1984)
  • H. Keith Markell 'The Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, 1948-1978' (Montreal: Faculty of Religious Studies, 1979)
  • Prof. Peter F. McNally McGill University: For the Advancement of Learning (1970-2002)' Vol III(Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press © 2002)
  • Brian J. Young 'The Making and Unmaking of a University Museum: The McCord, 1921-1996' (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, June 1, 2000)

Coordinates: 45°30′15″N 73°34′29″W / 45.50417°N 73.57472°W / 45.50417; -73.57472



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