Educator and missionary, archbishop; b. Hillsbo-rough, Inverness County, Nova Scotia, Canada, November 23, 1851; d. Toronto, May 25, 1934. The eldest son of Malcolm McNeil and Ellen Meagher, he was educated at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish (1869–73), and the Propaganda College, Rome (1873–79), where he received his Ph.D. and D.D. After ordination in Rome April 12, 1879, he attended the University of Marseilles, France (1879–80). On his return to Canada he was appointed to the faculty of St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, where he served as rector from 1884 until 1891. In 1881 he founded and edited the Aurora, a weekly newspaper, and he later edited the Casket. In 1891 McNeil went to Cape Breton as parish priest of West Arichat and in 1893 was transferred to the parish of D'Escousse. On October 20, 1895, he was consecrated titular bishop of Nilopolis at Antigonish and named vicar apostolic of the West Coast of Newfoundland, which afterward was established as the Diocese of St. Georges (February 18, 1904). He became its first bishop. He was appointed archbishop of Vancouver, British Columbia (1910–12), and there concerned himself with development of the diocese and Catholic colonization. As archbishop of Toronto (1912–34) he dedicated himself to the development of the Extension Society and St. Augustine's Seminary. St. Michael's College and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies there received valuable support from him, and he worked for more equitable distribution of taxes to Ontario's separate schools.
Bibliography: g. boyle, Pioneer in Purple: … Archbishop Neil McNeil (Montreal 1951).
[j. t. flynn]