Duncan McArthur graduated from Queen's in 1908 with a Master's Degree and won medals in history, philosophy, and political science.
After graduation, McArthur worked with famed Queen's professor Adam Shortt at the Dominion Archives of Canada (now Library and Archives Canada), working on the publication of documents relating to constitutional history and helping with Queen's summer school as well.
He obtained his LLD and was admitted to the bar in 1915.
McArthur then served as the general manager of a trust company from 1919-1922, after which he returned to Queen's and held the Douglas Chair in Canadian and Colonial History and then later became the head of the history department. He remained at Queen's for 12 years and was considered an excellent teacher.
In 1934, Mr. McArthur was made Deputy Minister of Education for Ontario and the entire Queen's community mourned the loss of his presence on campus, even as they celebrated his good fortune.
Six years later, in 1940, he was promoted to Minister of Education.
McArthur wanted to completely redefine education in Ontario and did research on schools in Britain and Scandinavia to determine what needed to be done. He then set about streamlining the system and placed a new emphasis on music and art.
In addition to his many other accomplishments, Mr. McArthur published a book for high school students on Canadian history and also contributed to the Cambridge History of the British Empire.
Duncan McArthur Hall is named in his honour.