James Richardson, Queen's sixth Chancellor (1929-1939), was the first of many members of the Richardson family to play a prominent part in Queen's history. He was born in Kingston and educated at Queen's, where he earned his BA in 1906.
After graduation, Richardson entered the family firm of James Richardson & Sons, one of Canada's greatest grain exporting firms. He became Vice President in 1912 and President in 1919, and supervised the move of the firm's main office from Kingston to Winnipeg in 1923.
He also branched out into the airline business, becoming a pioneer in the development of Canadian commercial aviation. He founded Western Canadian Airways in Winnipeg in 1926 and helped open up the mineral mining development of the North with his air transport routes. A book was published about Richardson's role in the airline industry entitled Double Cross: The Inside Story of James A. Richardson and the Canadian Airways.
Richardson was on the Board of Directors of many companies, including the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canadian International Bank of Commerce, International Nickel, the Great-West Life Assurance Co., National Trust, and Canadian Vickers. He was also president and member of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and several Canadian and American boards of trade.
Elected Queen's Chancellor in 1929, he served until his death in 1939 and was intimately involved with the workings of the university throughout his term. He took an active role in choosing Principals Fyfe and Wallace, and led several fundraising campaigns to which he gave generously from his own resources.
He died in Winnipeg in 1939.