LUNN, WILLIAM, businessman, politician, and educator; b. 18 July 1796 at Devonport, England, eldest son of William Lunn and Elizabeth Heard; m. 1 Feb. 1821 Margaret Fisher, the daughter of Duncan Fisher* and the widow of William Hutchison, and they had four children; d. 19 June 1886 in Montreal, Que.
William Lunn was educated in Devonport and began working at the naval dockyard there. In 1819 he was sent by the Admiralty to Kingston, Upper Canada, to take charge of stores. The following year he settled in Montreal, and when the British naval establishment was withdrawn in 1834 he chose to remain there.
Lunn’s interests were diverse and his energies great. He was one of the original subscribers to the Montreal General Hospital, and served as a member of the committee of managers intermittently from 1824 to 1886. In 1872 six of the original founders and governors of the institution, the Reverend John Bethune*, Anglican dean of Montreal, James Leslie*, William Molson*, William Lunn, William Ferguson, and John Mackenzie, were praised in the hospital’s 50th annual report as men “deserving of the congratulations and thanks of the society . . . .” Lunn was also active in civic and business affairs, and was a member of the board of governors of the Bank of Montreal (1829–49), a director of the Montreal Committee of Trade (1829) and of the Montreal Library (1829), a justice of the peace in Montreal (1826–30), a commissioner of the port of Montreal (1839–40), a municipal councillor (1842–45), and an alderman (1846).
His most enduring contribution to the life of his adopted city was in the field of education. At a time when instruction for Catholic children was provided mainly by the church, education for Protestants depended heavily on private schools operated by individual teachers, schools supported by British missionary groups such as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and those promoted by the cooperative efforts of citizens. One of these cooperative ventures opened in 1773 under the direction of John Pullman and a second was organized by William Lunn in 1822 when he helped establish the British and Canadian School Society of which Horatio Gates* was president and Louis-Joseph Papineau* and Charles William Grant* vice-presidents. The school, supported by popular subscriptions and government aid, admitted both boys and girls, and followed the Lancastrian monitorial system. Teachers were brought from England and Joseph Lancaster himself was invited to teach in 1829. Lunn’s school later became a centre for the distribution of school materials and for the training of elementary teachers. Its enrolment exceeded 500 when, in 1866, it came under the control of the Protestant Board of School Commissioners for the city of Montreal. Lunn was secretary-treasurer of the British and Canadian School Society throughout the 44 years of the school’s existence and his wife was, for a time, president of the Female Department.
Lunn’s other educational affiliations were numerous. He was secretary-treasurer of the Society for the Advancement of Education and Industry which he and John Molson* organized in 1826; secretary-treasurer of the Protestant Board of School Commissioners (1846–71) and member of the board (1871–83); a member of the original board of directors of the High School of Montreal established in 1843; and chairman of the Protestant Educational Association (1864), a citizens’ group for “the promotion and protection of the educational interests of Protestants in Lower Canada.” In recognition of Lunn’s work the Protestant Board of School Commissioners named in his honour an elementary school which existed from 1908 to 1941.
His son Alexander Hutchison Lunn, who was head boy at the High School of Montreal in 1847 and 1848, became a lawyer and partner in the firm of Cramp and Lunn. His stepdaughter, Margaret Hutchison, married Dr George William Campbell. Lunn died in 1886, as one of his contemporaries said, “full of years and good deeds.”
ANQ-M, État civil, Méthodistes, East End (Montréal), 1 Feb. 1821. McGill Univ. Arch., Montreal General Hospital records, Register of proc., 1822–32. British and Canadian School Soc., Annual report (Montreal), 2 (1824). Can., Prov. of, Statutes, 1859, c.122. A few remarks on the meeting at Montreal for the formation of an association for the promotion and protection of the educational interests of Protestants in Lower Canada (Montreal, 1864). Montreal General Hospital, Fiftieth annual report . . . with a synopsis of its history to the present time (Montreal, 1872). Borthwick, Hist. and biog. gazetteer, 420. Canadian biog. dict., II: 170–74. Montreal directory, 1848–49; 1859; 1884–85. Terrill, Chronology of Montreal. L.-P. Audet, Le système scolaire, VI: 215–18. G. M. Burnett, “The High School for Girls, Montreal, 1875–1914” (ma thesis, McGill Univ., Montreal, 1963). Denison, Canada’s first bank. H. E. MacDermot, A history of the Montreal General Hospital (Montreal, 1950), 13. E. I. Rexford et al., The history of the High School of Montreal (Montreal, 1950).