The Roddick Memorial Gates


So much has been written of Sir Thomas G. Roddick, and his great life work is so well know [sic], particularly here at McGill, that too much repetition could serve little purpose. His life is a record of achievement, the benefits of which will long be felt by his profession and his country. Few can know what hard work, unselfish devotion to duty and what charity made this achievement possible. Suffice it to say, that his name, honored from coast to coast, has brought added glory to his Alma Mater.[…]

One of Sir Thomas’ strongest characteristics was his regard for time. Probably he would not have accomplished what he did had it not been for this appreciation of the value of time. Often he expressed the wish that there should be a clock prominently situated in the college grounds, to act as a reminder and a help to the students and others who frequent McGill. This idea was constantly before him and he greatly desired the erection of a clock tower.

This wish, and the lack of a proper entrance to McGill, suggested to Lady Roddick the idea of incorporating them both in a memorial to him. […]

In designing the gates the architect felt that everything should be subordinated to that everlasting joy to McGill, the avenue of trees ending at the Arts Building. Any arch or structure over the driveway would naturally have blocked this lovely vista, particularly if viewed as one approaches up McGill College Avenue. From this point the inspiration of the Greek character of the gates is immediately seen in the portico of the Arts Building. The gates seem to frame this splendid bit of Old McGill. […]

The base and sidewalk are of Deschambault limestone, the remainder of the stone being dark grey Indiana limestone. The latter was selected owing to its freedom from defects and uniformity of color. When one considers that the columns are monolithic and that the architrave is solid stone having no steel supports, it can readily be seen how necessary it was to have a stone from which such large flawless pieces could be cut. With the exception of the columns and capitals the stone is all hand-cut.[…]

The bronze door in the rear of the clock tower leads up through the narrow passage to the clock chamber. In this small chamber, only 3’-6” x 5’-0” x 10’-0” are the clock table on which lie the clock works and the four bells which sound the Westminster chimes.

It is hoped that at some future date a new fence will be built, which will bring the Sherbrooke Street front into a complete and harmonious whole and relieve the feeling of isolation which the gates have at present. Yet even now the new entrance pays fitting tribute to him in whose memory the gates were erected. Enclosing, yet not hiding, the beautiful grounds behind, these gates will stand as a lasting memorial to one of McGill’s greatest sons.

Source: Grattan D. Thompson, The Roddick Memorial Gates, The McGill News 6 (June 31, 1925): 21-23

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