Tagged: science

Better know a Canadian functionary: more officers of the Central Experimental Farm and the Department of Agriculture Science Service

This is a continuation of an earlier post I made on this subject, which you can find here.

In 1886 Parliament authorized the Department of Agriculture to establish a nationwide system of experimental farms to work on ways to improve all aspects of agricultural production in Canada. The main farm was the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, which still exists today as a National Historic Site even though the city has long since grown up around the farm and the land must be worth a fortune by now.

The original head of all projects conducted by the Experimental Farms Service was the Dominion Agriculturist, a post originally filled by the Farm’s director, the agricultural chemist William Saunders. The Dominion Agriculturalist was soon after joined by the Dominion Botanist, moved under the Farm’s command from elsewhere in the Department of Agriculture in 1887; the Dominion Chemist, created in 1887; the Dominion Poultry Husbandman, created in 1888; the Dominion Cerealist, created by William Saunders in 1910 for his son Charles; and the Dominion Horticulturalist, which was split off of the Dominion Botanist in 1910.

In 1912, the office of the Dominion Agriculturalist was split into two jobs: the Dominion Animal Husbandman, who handled the raising of animals, and the Dominion Field Husbandman, who handled not only vegetable crops, but also the physical aspects of farms, such as drainage and soil engineering. (“Husbandman” is an archaic word for a farmer, from a lesser-used verb form of “husband” meaning “to manage”.) In that same year, the Dominion Agrostologist was split from the Dominion Botanist to study grasses and other forage crops. The Experimental Farms Service set up a Tobacco Division in 1913, then established the Dominion Apiarist to study bees in 1914. The Farms Service ran its own Extension & Publicity department from 1914 until it was merged into the Department of Agriculture’s publications service in 1935. (“Extension” is the process of educating farmers on technological and scientific advancements.) In 1915, the Farm started an Illustration Stations Service, where ordinary farmers could let the government take over a bit of their land and use the latest crops and techniques in order to show off how much better they were to the surrounding community. Another major new department of the Experimental Farms Service came in 1917, with the Economic Fibre Production Division, concerning the growth of plants used in textile production, such as flax. Finally, the Farm set up a Bacteriology division in 1923 to investigate various diseases and fermentations.

In 1937, the Department of Agriculture expanded its Entomology Branch (founded in 1914) and founded the Science Service for its more laboratory-oriented research interests, moving the Chemistry, Botany and Bacteriology divisions from the Experimental Farms Service and merging the latter with the office of the Dairy and Cold Storage Commissioner to form the Bacteriology & Dairy Research Division. The Science Service was then run separately from the Experimental Farms Service, although the Science Service headquarters was moved to the Central Experimental Farm in 1947.

In the Experimental Farms Service, the Economic Fibre Production division was merged into the Field Husbandry division in 1952, and the Poultry Husbandry division was merged into the Animal Husbandry division in 1957. Finally, in 1959 both the Experimental Farms Service and the Science Service were dissolved and reformed as the Research Division of the Department of Agriculture.

The Directors of the Experimental Farms were:
William Saunders, 1886-1911.
J.H. Grisdale, 1911-19.
Edgar Spinney Archibald, 1919-50.
E.S. Hopkins, 1950-55.
Cyril Harold Goulden, 1955-59.

The Dominion Agriculturalists were:
William Saunders, 1886-90.
James W. Robertson, 1890-96.
William Saunders (acting), 1897-98
J.H. Grisdale, 1899-1912.

The Dominion Poultry Husbandmen were:
A.G. Gilbert, 1888-1913.
F.C. Elford, 1913-37.
G. Robertson, 1937-46.
H.S. Gutteridge, 1946-57.

The Dominion Animal Husbandmen were:
Edgar Spinney Archibald, 1912-20.
George B. Rothwell, 1920-31.
G.W. Muir, 1931-51.
H.K.C.A. Rasmussen, 1951-59.

The Dominion Field Husbandmen were:
J.H. Grisdale, 1912-19.
Edgar Spinney Archibald, 1919-20.
E.S. Hopkins, 1920-46.
P.O. Ripley, 1946-59.

The Chiefs of the Tobacco Division were:
Felix Charlan, 1913-24.
C.M. Slagg, 1924-28.
N.T. Nelson, 1928-46.
Norman MacRae, 1946-59.

The Chiefs of Extension & Publicity for the Experimental Farms Service were:
J.F. Watson, 1914-17.
W.A. Lang, 1917-21.
F.C. Nunnick, 1921-35.

The Supervisors of the Illustration Stations Division were:
John Fixter, 1915-27.
J.C. Moynan, 1928-53.
A.E. Barrett, 1953-59.

The Chiefs of Economic Fibre Production were:
G.G. Bramhill, 1917-18.
R.J. Hutchinson, 1918-52.

The Directors of the Department of Agriculture Science Service were:
J.M. Swaine, 1937-46.
K.W. Neatby, 1946-58.
Robert Glen, 1958-59.

The only Dominion Agricultural Bacteriologist was Allan Grant Lochhead, 1923-37.

The Chiefs of the Bacteriology & Dairy Research Division (Bacteriology Division after 1953) were:
Allan Grant Lochhead, 1937-56.
H. Katznelson, 1956-59.


Better know a Canadian functionary: the head of the Meteorological Service of Canada

Government involvement in predicting the weather goes back to colonial times. The modern Meteorological Service of Canada was set up in 1871, when the government hired a professor at the University of Toronto to set up a national meteorological service. Since then, the federal weather service has had many names: Meteorological Service of Canada (1871-1936), Meteorological Division of the Air Services Branch (1936-56), Meteorological Branch (1956-70), Canadian Meteorological Service (1970-71) and Atmospheric Environment Service (1971-99) before returning to the Meteorological Service of Canada in 1999.

Meteorology was the responsibility of the Department of Marine and Fisheries until 1936, then came under the authority of the Department of Transport until the establishment of the Department of the Environment in 1971, where it remains to this day.

The head of the federal government’s meteorological functions has had various titles: Superintendent from 1871 to 1880, Director from 1880 to 1936, Controller from 1936 to 1956, Director (again) from 1956 to 1970, Administrator from 1970 to 1971, and Assistant Deputy Minister since 1971.

The heads of the Meteorological Service of Canada, in its various incarnations, have been:

G.T. Kingston, 1871-80.
Charles Carpmael, 1880-94.
Sir Robert Frederic Stupart, Kt., 1894-1929.
John Patterson, 1929-46.
Andrew Thomson OBE, 1946-59.
Patrick Duncan McTaggart-Cowan MBE, 1959-64.
John Reginald H. Noble, 1964-76.
Arthur E. Collin, 1976-80.
James P. Bruce, 1980-85.
Howard L. Ferguson, 1985-89.
Elizabeth V. Dowdeswell OC, 1989-93.
Gordon A. McBean, 1993-2000.
Marc-Denis Everell, 2000-06.
David Grimes, 2006-now.

Better know a Canadian functionary: the President of the National Research Council

Most armchair historians will know that some of the greatest eras of innovation came from the simple desire to kill as many people in the most efficient manner possible. To that end, in the middle of World War I Sir Robert Borden established the Honorary Advisory Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a loose federation of scientific experts advising the government on new and exciting ways to slaughter Prussians. They proved such useful little busy-beavers that in 1928 it was reorganized into a Crown Corporation, the National Research Council, and given funds to build a laboratory, a handsome stone building in Ottawa at the edge of the Rideau Falls on Sussex Drive that was finished in 1932.

(The main NRC labs moved to a large campus on Montreal Road in the 1970s. The downtown labs now house the President’s office, its industrial relations offices, the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences [SIMS] and the NRC Institute for Biological Sciences [IBS]. It may be instructive at this juncture to point out these two facts: the IBS is a Class 3 biohazard laboratory, and it is three doors down from the Prime Minister’s Residence.)

The Presidents of the National Research Council of Canada have been:

Col. Rev. Henry Marshall Tory, 1928-35. A Nova Scotian, Tory went to McGill’s Wesleyan college and became an ordained Methodist minister before going back to school to study and teach mathematics, earning his D.Sc. in 1903. McGill sent him to the west coast in 1906 to set up the McGill University College of British Columbia (absorbed into UBC in 1915). He then went to Edmonton in 1908 to found the University of Alberta, and served as its president for 20 years. During World War I the government made him a Colonel and sent him to Europe to set up an education service for soldiers. The resultant Khaki University enrolled nearly 50,000 soldiers in the three years it was active (1917-19). As President of the NRC, Dr. Tory’s main goal was to get funding and laboratories. He retired in 1935, but came out to found Carleton College in Ottawa (now Carleton University) in 1942, serving as President until his death in 1947.

Gen. Hon. Andrew George Latta McNaughton CH CB CMG DSO CD PC, 1935-39. McNaughton was born in Moosomin, Sask., and attended McGill, earning an M.Sc. in civil engineering in 1912. He joined the militia in 1909 and was sent to France with the 4th Battery of the CEF in 1915. He rose quickly through the ranks by his artillery acumen, using an oscilloscope to pinpoint the exact locations of German heavy guns by their sound. He was at Sir Arthur Currie’s right hand at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and was promoted to Brigadier-General the day before the Armistice. He was Deputy Chief of the General Staff from 1922 to 1929 and Chief of the General Staff of the Canadian Army from 1929 to 1935, retiring to take the presidency of the NRC. He left the NRC at the outbreak of World War II to command the Canadian Army in Europe, resigning his command by 1943 over differences with the defence minister, James Ralston. Ralston resigned in 1944 over the Conscription Crisis, and Mackenzie King promoted McNaughton to full General and made him Minister of National Defense. He resigned as Minister in August 1945 after failing twice to be elected to Parliament. After the War, McNaughton chaired the UN Atomic Energy Commission. He died in 1966; his grandson is Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie CMM MSC MSM CD, former commander of the Canadian Army and rising star in the Liberal Party.

Chalmers Jack Mackenzie CC CMG MC FRS, 1939-52. Mackenzie was born in New Brunswick and earned a B.Eng. in civil engineering from Dalhousie, which he taught at USask from 1912 to 1932, when he accepted a job overseeing public works projects for the federal government. Mackenzie was a member of the Massey Commission of 1951, which laid the groundwork for the modern state-sponsored culture industry in Canada. Mackenzie left the NRC in 1952 to serve as the inaugural chairman of Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd.

Edgar William Richard Steacie OBE FRS, 1952-62. Born in Montreal, “Ned” Steacie earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from McGill and became a world-renowned expert on free radical kinetics – the way individual molecules tend to move around. He was elected president of the International Council of Scientific Unions in 1961. He died in office in 1962.

Bristow Guy Ballard, 1962-67. Ballard earned a B.Sc. in electrical engineering from Queen’s and worked for Westinghouse for 5 years, developing high-speed electric trains. He was hired by the NRC in 1930 and worked his way up to director of the Radio and Electrical Engineering Division. Ballard became acting president after Dr. Steacie’s death and was appointed President in the last few days of the Diefenbaker government; Ballard didn’t particularly want to be President, as he was very deaf.

William George Schneider OC FRS, 1967-80. Schneider earned a Ph.D. in pure chemistry from McGill and spent the last half of WWII at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He served as president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry from 1983 to 1985. Schneider’s presidency saw the first NRC fellow to win a Nobel Prize: the 1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which went to Dr. Gerhard Herzberg.

John Larkin Kerwin CC, 1980-1989.The first French-Canadian to serve as President, Kerwin earned a D.Sc. in physics from the Université Laval, where he went on to serve as its first lay rector. Dr. Kerwin was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1989, the year he quit the NRC to serve as the first president of the Canada Space Agency.

Pierre O. Perron, 1989-1994. A graduate of the metallurgy program at ULaval, Perron was serving as Deputy Minister of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources when he was appointed President.

Arthur J. Carty, 1994-2004. The English-born Carty earned a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Nottingham, then worked as a chemist at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Carty left the NRC in 2004 to serve as a scientific advisor to the Prime Minister.

Dr. Michael Raymont (acting), 2004-05.

Pierre Coulombe, 2005-2010. After earning a Ph.D. in experimental medicine from ULaval, Dr. Coulombe was CEO of various private medical research firms in Quebec before coming to the NRC.

John McDougall, 2010-now. McDougall earned a B.Sc. in civil engineering from the University of Alberta and had a long and successful career in petroleum engineering, capped off by 12 years as president of the Alberta Research Council before becoming president of the NRC.