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In Convocation Hall on the afternoon of Grads’ Day in 1983 in a feature called Past Masters, four men influential in McMaster’s history were talked about, informally, affectionately: founding father William McMaster; two past presidents, George Gilmour and Harry Thode; and the University»s own beloved absent–minded professor, Chester New.


William McMaster


William McMaster: Founding Father
by Togo Salmon, hon. ’75

…My task today is to talk to you ­ ­ with authority and conviction, of course ­ ­ about the man that none of us knew, but that all of us are indebted to.

Well, onomastic appearances notwithstanding, William McMaster was neither a Scot, nor a pillar of the kirk… I assure you, positively and solemnly, that McMaster was born (on Christmas Eve on 1811) an Irishman; and still more surprising, he was a Baptist Irishman.

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George Peel Gilmour

A Daughter Recalls her father, George Gilmour ’21
by Gwen Laurie ’54

…I am very biased in my view of George Gilmour, and think that he was one of God’s finest creations. I am sure that not everybody liked him, but I am equally sure that all respected him, and any loved him. …Of course, as a child, I thought everybody had a wonderful father just as I had. …It was only when I grew up that I realized how fortunate we were.

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Chester New

Our Absent Minded Professor; Dr. Chester New
By Mary Ellen Burville, ’50

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from Jack Passmore, ’33. He shared with me a Dr. New story. It recounted an incident which occurred when Jack was history student at Mac. It went like this:

One day in the ‘30s as Dr. New was leaving on some errands downtown, his wife asked, “Chester, would you please buy me a pound of moth balls?”

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Harry Thode

McMaster President Elevates Science
By Dr. Martin Johns, ’32.

…Harry Thode was chosen by Dean Charles Burke as one of the instruments which were to be used to create a McMaster that would serve the industrial and technological needs of the Golden Horseshoe. It turned out that the special training he had received at Chicago and at Columbia University uniquely fitted him for a key role in Canada’s embryonic nuclear power industry, and his response to that national challenge changed the fact of the University to which he has given his life.

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Masters of McMaster


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