William McMaster was born on December 24, 1811 in County Tyrone, Ireland. His father, also William McMaster, was a linen merchant.When young, McMaster came to York (Toronto) in 1833 and it’s not surprising that he set up a dry goods store which prospered under the name “William McMaster & Nephews.”McMaster married Mary Henderson of New York in 1851, and later he married a widow, Susan Moulton in 1871. There were no children of either union. We may surmise that this was the reason for using the “and Nephews” in his business title.In 1862, William McMaster was elected Representative of Midland in the Legislative Council of United Canada. He was continually re-elected until in 1867, when Sir John A. MacDonald called him to The Senate.It was in this same year that he, and a number of other businessmen, formed the Canadian Bank of Commerce. He was elected its first President and held the position until he retired in 1876.
A life long Baptist, Senator McMaster’s greatest claim to fame was by being instrumental in founding McMaster University as a theological and divinity school for Baptist students for the ministry. At his death in 1887, the bulk of his estate was left to McMaster University. The University that bears his name is a world leader in many areas, chiefly medical and scientific research. In this way, McMaster’s contribution to his own day and to ours brings honour to an Ulsterman of faith and vision.
See also CIBC website.