Biography of George Monro Grant
George Monro Grant graduated MA in 1857 and DD in 1860. He was born in Albion Mines, in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, in 1835. As a boy, he attended his father's school in Albion Mines, and Pictou Academy (founded by Glasgow alumnus Thomas McCulloch), before entering the West River Seminary.
In 1853, the established Kirk at Pictou began running a 'Young Men's Scheme.' This bursary provided twenty pounds to 'young men of the revived synod willing to devote themselves to a theological training in Glasgow or Edinburgh University [… if] the recipients promised on receiving license to return to Nova Scotia and to give service there for at least three years.' Grant was one of four young men from Pictou who was sent to Glasgow that year, and formed part of a community of Nova Scotians at the University.
Grant first matriculated in 1853, attending classes in Logic, Ethics, junior Mathematics, Physics, and junior Hebrew. He won several prizes during his undergraduate degree, among them top student of the year in the Humanities (1853-54). Grant graduated with distinction in 1857.
He spent another three years at Glasgow, studying Ecclesiastical History, Divinity and senior Hebrew, graduating DD in 1860. His prize-winning increased during these years, winning the Coulter Prize (of Two Pounds Ten shillings) in two consecutive years (1857-58, 1858-59) for the best lecture on Psalm XXIV and his sermon on John xiii.35; a distinction for a theological ‘Essay, [...] on the argument for the truth of Christianity from the Variety of Evidence adduced in its support,’; a ten pound prize for the second-best 'Essay "On the Literature and Philosophy of the Hindoos"' which had been 'offered by a gentleman who was a Student at this University.'; was recognised for his senior Divinity paper, 'on the Sameness of the Covenant of Grace under the Old and New Testament Dispensations.'; 'a prize of twenty guineas for the best Essay on “The Relations of the Critical, Systematic and Historical Theology,”'; and accolades for 'superiority in Competitive Trials in translating, orally, portions of Calvin’s Institutes' and for a second place essay for ecclesiastical history, 'On the Theory of Romanism, and the Theory of Protestantism.’ (1859-60)
Grant made good use of his years at the University, engaging with all aspects of student life. In 1858-1859, Grant contributed two anonymous sketches to the Glasgow University Album, describing his experiences as a Nova Scotian at the University in fictional form. He also held the Presidencies of the Conservative Club, the Missionary Society and the Football Club. In addition to his extracurricular activities, Grant took positions as a tutor. By the end of his degree, he had earned enough to repay the Kirk's bursary.
Grant's contemporary, Thomas McRae recalled of his years in Glasgow that 'Grant's superabounding energy and wide-spread sympathies carried him into every sphere of student life; into every one of them he carried the same whole-hearted enthusiasm; and in them all his rare powers carried him to distinction. In the debating society, as well as in his classes; on the football green, as well as in the political oratory of the elections, Grant was always to be found in the foremost rank.'
Following his graduation, Grant was ordained as a missionary to Nova Scotia and returned home in January 1861. He served parishes in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island for the next two years, before taking up a charge in Halifax, where he would remain until 1877. In 1875, Grant had an active role in the unification of Canada's four main Presbyterian groups into the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly in 1889.
While living in Halifax, Grant became involved with the 1863 Dalhousie Act (or the new university act) that re-established Dalhousie as the provincial university, to which his church endowed a chair. Grant remained on Dalhousie University’s Board of Governors until 1885, receiving an LLD from that institution in 1892.
In 1877, Grant became the Principal of Queen's College in Kingston, Ontario, which was at that time a Presbyterian institution. He would remain in the position until 1902, overseeing fundraising to ensure the College could support increased enrolment and stave off amalgamation with the University of Toronto. Grant died in Kingston in 1902.