Many believe that Macdonald High School was founded by Sir John A Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada. In reality, the school is the result of the philanthropic efforts of William Christopher Macdonald, the tobacco pioneer.
Born in Prince Edward Island on 10 February 1831, William Christopher Macdonald first gained his business acumen in the United States and then built a fortune selling tobacco under various brands owned by his Montreal-based Macdonald Tobacco Company. The college and high school in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue were but two of his many educational contributions. He was particularly devoted to farming communities and the advancement of agricultural sciences. Throughout his long philanthropic career, Macdonald established rural schools in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and he helped fund facilities at McGill, Guelph University and the University of British Columbia. His philanthropy earned him a knighthood, which Queen Victoria herself bestowed upon him in 1898.