Pre-Confederation Government Science in Canada

Government-funded science is not a 20th century phenomenon. British and French governments supported scientific activities to meet their needs since the 17th century. These activities included providing measuring devices for standardization of weights and measures, surveying for creation of maps, and supporting expeditions to observe the transits of Venus.

Accurate navigational charts were very important for the economy. When the Marquis de Chabert in 1750 explored and charted the shores of Acadia and Newfoundland, he had the benefit of an observatory--probably the first fixed structure for scientific work in Canada--at Fortress Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. His work was important enough to be published by the Académie des Sciences in Paris.

The British followed suit with similar surveys in the 1760s under the direction of such military men as J.F.W. DesBarres and Samuel Holland whose charts were published in the Atlantic Neptune. In the 19th century, William Fitzwilliam Owen and Henry Bayfield continued improving nautical charts from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes, laying the groundwork for the Hydrographic Survey of Canada.
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program, Suzanne Board, Dr. Randall C. Brooks, Sylvie Toupin, Ana-Laura Baz, Jean-François Gauvin, Betsy Little, Paola Poletto, Dr. James Low, David Kasserra, Kathryn Rumbold, David Pantalony, Dr. Thierry Ruddel, Kim Svendsen

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