The Drummond Foundation traces its roots back to the late 19th century, to Sir George Alexander Drummond and his second wife, Julia Parker Hamilton Drummond. Sir George and Lady Drummond were very active in the Montreal society of their day and shared a deep commitment to community service and philanthropy. This commitment was embraced by subsequent generations of their family and continues to this day, embodied in the Drummond Foundation.
Sir George Alexander Drummond, KCMG CVO (1829 – 1910)
Early years and personal life
The son of a successful Edinburgh building contractor, Drummond studied Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh before moving to Montreal in 1854, at the invitation of his brother-in-law and family business associate John Redpath. Redpath engaged Drummond to run the technical aspects of his newly-established sugar refinery – later known as Redpath Sugar – on the Lachine Canal. In 1857, Drummond married Helen Elizabeth, John Redpath’s daughter from an earlier marriage. They had seven children together before Helen died in 1883. In 1884, Drummond married Grace Julia Parker Hamilton, the young widow of Reverend George Hamilton. Together, they had two sons, Julian St. George and Guy Melfort.
Drummond enjoyed a long and fruitful business career, principally in the sugar business, but also in a number of other manufacturing and financial enterprises. The Redpath Sugar business was a continuing central focus of his business life, and his family, under the leadership of his son Huntly Redpath Drummond, remained actively involved in the business for 50 years thereafter. An active member of the Montreal business community, Drummond became a member of the Montreal Board of Trade in 1864 and served as its president from 1886 to 1888. He also sat on the boards of several major corporations, including Canadian Pacific Railway. From 1887 to 1896, he was the vice-president of the Bank of Montreal, acting as its de facto President from 1897 and then formally its President from 1905 to his death in 1910. Drummond was also active in many civic organizations and was a founding member of a wide range of Montreal institutions, including the Royal Edward Institute (Montreal Chest Hospital), the Mount Royal Club and the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
Drummond had a lively interest in politics and was very active in the Conservative party. In 1888, Sir John A. Macdonald appointed Drummond to the Senate of Canada, where his views on commercial, financial, and fiscal matters were highly valued and where he served as Chair of the Banking and Finance Committee which he led until his death in 1910.
Arts and culture
Drummond had a lifelong passion for art collecting, and his Sherbrooke Street mansion housed an impressive collection of Old Masters and 19th century European art. He was one of the early board members of the Art Association of Montreal, which later became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and was its President from 1896 to 1899. He and his family donated a number of significant works from his art collection to the Museum.
For his many years of distinguished service to Canada and the British Empire, Drummond was made a Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) in 1904, by H.M. King Edward VII, and was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 1905.
Julia Parker Hamilton Drummond (1860 – 1942)
Early years and personal life
Grace Julia Parker was born in Montreal to Scottish parents. She was married firstly to George Hamilton in 1879, a young Anglican priest from an established Quebec family. Sadly, the Reverend Hamilton died a year later. In 1884, she married George Alexander Drummond, himself widowed in the prior year. Together, they had two sons: Julian St. George, who died in infancy; and Guy Melfort, who was killed in battle at Ypres in 1915, during the Great War.
Lady Drummond, as she later became known, was widely respected for her pioneer charity work and as a champion of the engagement of women in public life. She served as the first President of the Montreal branch of the National Council of Women in Canada (1893 to 1899), helped found the Montreal branch of the Victorian Order of Nurses (in 1899), served as the first President (and, with Elsie Meighen Reford, as a co-founder) of the Women’s Canadian Club of Montreal (1907-1908), and also served as President of the Ward of Mercy. In 1910, Sir George and Lady Drummond established the Charity Organization of Montreal, and Lady Drummond served as its President from 1911 to 1919.
Canadian Red Cross
At the start of the Great War in 1914, Lady Drummond travelled to London to work at the headquarters of the Canadian Red Cross, where she headed its Information Bureau. She personally funded most of her department’s activities, which involved providing news to the families of missing and wounded soldiers, as well as organizing housing and other support for Canadian soldiers in hospital or on leave in London.
For her outstanding service to Canada and the British Empire during the Great War, Lady Drummond was titled Lady of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem from that Order and was also awarded the French Médaille de Reconnaissance, the Serbian Red Cross Medal, and the British Red Cross Medal. She was widely considered, as reported in the newspapers of the time, as one of the "12 Greatest Canadian Women" for her work. In recognition of her community service and humanitarian work, Lady Drummond was the first woman ever to be awarded an honorary doctorate (LL. D.) from McGill University.
Between 1893 and 1945, Sir George Drummond, his son Huntly Redpath Drummond, and his niece Agnes Drummond, made charitable gifts and created charitable trusts – known as the Drummond Trusts – to support various philanthropic ventures.
The Drummond Trusts initially supported St. Margaret’s Home for the Incurables, a nursing home for the aged and sick that was founded in 1883 by two Anglican nuns from the Sisterhood of the Society of Saint Margaret. In 1893, Sir George purchased the former house of renowned Montreal photographer William Notman, at 51 Sherbrooke Street West, for the benefit of the nuns, and in 1894, he financed the construction of a residential extension that allowed them to accommodate 50 residents.
By the 1920s the residents under care at St. Margaret’s Home were exclusively women. By the 1970s, the Home accommodated 60 residents, operating under the continuing management of the Sisters of St. Margaret with the financial support from the Drummond family. In 1975, after 92 years, the Sisters of St. Margaret withdrew from the management of the Home and St. Margaret’s continued on as a private not-for-profit institution. From 1982, as a result of new Quebec health and social services legislation, the Home was gradually integrated fully into the provincial public health care system, and in 1990 St. Margaret’s moved to its present-day location, a new purpose-built facility on Hillside Avenue in Westmount, Quebec.
For almost a century, the Drummond family, through its Trusts, had been the main source of funding for St. Margaret’s Home, and, for several generations, members of the Drummond family have actively served on its Board of Directors alongside other volunteer members of the Montreal community. With the sustainability of St. Margaret’s assured by the new government funding arrangements, the Drummond family considered other charitable purposes for the Drummond Trusts.
In 1988, the family consolidated the various Drummond Trusts under the Drummond Foundation, to carry on the charitable work initiated by Sir George and Lady Drummond in the late 19th century. The objectives of the Drummond Foundation are the same as those that were originally set out for the Drummond Trusts, namely, “to provide relief from suffering and distress, to assist in the prevention of mental and physical illness, otherwise to aid the Incurable, the infirm, the sick and the aged, and for other kindred purposes.”
Together with a number of active volunteers from the Montreal community, a number of Drummond family descendants are actively involved with the Drummond Foundation to this day, including board members Alexander Drummond McNiven and Dr. Helen Elizabeth Ross, as well as Bruce Drummond McNiven, who serves as its President.
Today, the Drummond Foundation provides research grants to those working in Canada on ageing-related research and the improvement of the quality of life of socially, mentally or physically disadvantaged older adults, their families and caregivers. Through charitable grants, it also continues to support community organizations dedicated to a range of services and initiatives aiming to improve quality of life for Canada’s aging population.
Presidents of St. Margaret's Home
|Sir George Alexander Drummond, KCMG, CVO||
|Huntly Redpath Drummond|
|Mary Dorothea Drummond Millar||
|Helen Elizabeth Drummond Henderson|
|Guy Melfort Drummond, QC||
Presidents of the Drummond Foundation
1982 - 2023
|Bruce Drummond McNiven, CM||1999 to present|