Donald Gordon was born in Scotland and came to Canada when he was quite young. Mr. Gordon got a job with the Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto when he was only 15 and furthered his education first through night school classes and then in extension courses at Queen's. His drive and determination was noticed at the bank and he rose quickly to become the Assistant Chief Accountant and Assistant Manager of the Toronto Branch at the age of 30.
When the Bank of Canada was established in 1935, Donald Gordon was made Secretary and later Deputy Governor. From 1941-1947, he was Chairman of the War-Time Prices and Trade Board. He was also appointed Director of the Industrial Development Bank on its creation in 1944 and served as Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (now part of the World Bank). All of these positions had spread Gordon's fame as an able administrator, and earned him the appointment of Chairman and President of the Canadian National Railways. Mr. Gordon modernized the railways and brought stability to the company.
Donald Gordon served as a Queen's Trustee from 1951 until his death in 1969. He was a great benefactor of this university and in addition to helping with various fundraising campaigns, he made several donations himself.