1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Grant, George Monro

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GRANT, GEORGE MONRO (1835–1902), principal of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, was born in Nova Scotia in 1835. He was educated at Glasgow university, where he had a brilliant academic career; and having entered the ministry of the Presbyterian Church, he returned to Canada and obtained a pastoral charge in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which he held from 1863 to 1877. He quickly gained a high reputation as a preacher and as an eloquent speaker on political subjects. When Canada was confederated in 1867 Nova Scotia was the province most strongly opposed to federal union. Grant threw the whole weight of his great influence in favour of confederation, and his oratory played an important part in securing the success of the movement. When the consolidation of the Dominion by means of railway construction was under discussion in 1872, Grant travelled from the Atlantic to the Pacific with the engineers who surveyed the route of the Canadian Pacific railway, and his book Ocean to Ocean (1873) was one of the first things that opened the eyes of Canadians to the value of the immense heritage they enjoyed. He never lost an opportunity, whether in the pulpit or on the platform, of pressing on his hearers that the greatest future for Canada lay in unity with the rest of the British Empire; and his broad statesman-like judgment made him an authority which politicians of all parties were glad to consult. In 1877 Grant was appointed principal of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, which through his exertions and influence expanded from a small denominational college into a large and influential educational centre; and he attracted to it an exceptionally able body of professors whose influence in speculation and research was widely felt during the quarter of a century that he remained at its head. In 1888 he visited Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the effect of this experience being to strengthen still further the Imperialism which was the guiding principle of his political opinions. On the outbreak of the South African War in 1899 Grant was at first disposed to be hostile to the policy of Lord Salisbury and Mr Chamberlain; but his eyes were soon opened to the real nature of President Kruger’s government, and he enthusiastically welcomed and supported the national feeling which sent men from the outlying portions of the Empire to assist in upholding British supremacy in South Africa. Grant did not live to see the conclusion of peace, his death occurring at Kingston on the 10th of May 1902. At the time of his death The Times observed that “it is acknowledged on all hands that in him the Dominion has lost one of the ablest men that it has yet produced.” He was the author of a number of works, of which the most notable besides Ocean to Ocean are, Advantages of Imperial Federation (1889), Our National Objects and Aims (1890), Religions of the World in Relation to Christianity (1894) and volumes of sermons and lectures. Grant married in 1872 Jessie, daughter of William Lawson of Halifax.