The Richardsons are a Kingston and Queen's dynasty. Founders of one of Canada's greatest grain-exporting firms, James Richardson & Sons, the family has been linked with the university since early this century and has provided Queen's with some of its most distinguished leaders and important gifts.
The founder of the dynasty, James Richardson, arrived in Kingston from Ireland in 1823 and moved from the tailoring trade into grain shipping and exporting, building a company that remains the largest grain firm in the British Commonwealth. Although by the end of the century the commercial activities of the company had shifted increasingly to the prairies, the head office of the firm remained in Kingston until 1923.
The first Richardson to figure largely in Queen's history was the original Richardson's grandson, also James Richardson (BA 1906). He was President of the family firm, a generous benefactor to the university, and served as the university's Chancellor from 1929 to 1939. Richardson Hall, built in 1954, is named in his memory.
His brother, George Taylor Richardson (BSc 1909), was a top student and a spectacular athlete at the university but was killed in action during the First World War. After the war, the family donated the George Richardson Memorial Stadium to Queen's in his honour and also established the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund.
Agnes Etherington, sister of James and George, was married to Frederick Etherington, Queen's Dean of Medicine, and left her handsome home on University Avenue to Queen's to be used as the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
Agnes McCausland Benidickson (BA 1941, LLD 1979), daughter of James, served as the second Chancellor in the family from 1980- 1996. Other members of the family have served on the Board of Trustees, and the family has made considerable donations to Queen's libraries and lectureships.
The Chancellor Richardson Memorial Fund, established in 1968, has played a vital role in allowing Queen's to collect Canadian materials for teaching and research. The fund has contributed more than $1 million to collections housed primarily in the Queen’s University Archives, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Special Collections, the Documents Library, and the Departments of Film and Media Studies, Music, and Geography.