As a proud graduate of McGill University, it was gratifying to see a feature article on the McGill News website recently called “Make-believe McGillies.” The article describes various “make-believe” alumni from McGill in fiction, movies, and television in the past decades (including Marie St. Jacques, Jason Bourne’s accomplice in The Bourne Identity novel. Unfortunately, St. Jacques’ character was replaced by the character Marie Helena Kreutz–not a McGill grad!)
Unfortunately, the article only discusses characters that are actually purported to have been McGill alumni. However, one of my favourite novelists, Kathy Reichs, who is both a forensic anthropologist and novelist, mentions McGill at various points in her novels. The main character of Reich’s novels, Temperance Brennen (upon whom the TV series “Bones” is based) spends time between Montreal and North Carolina. In Reichs’ second novel (and one of my favourites), Death du Jour, the McGill campus is mentioned often. Here the heroine, “Tempe,” ends up wandering the halls at McGill’s famous William and Henry Birks Building at the Faculty of Religious Studies, consulting with one of the professors of religious studies to solve her case. Her descriptions of the Birks building are spot on, and whenever I’ve re-read those sections, I have a tad bit of homesickness for the beautiful old building where I did my doctoral work.