Early Measurement Standards for the Colonies

Canada’s earliest measurement standards, for surveyors, were enacted in 1674 by Frontenac, governor of Québec. Regulations and definitions soon followed for weights and measures, such as minot, boisseau, pot, and pinte. Following the Treaty of Paris (1763) weights and measures for Canada were officially tied to those of the British Exchequer. Standards for towns were stamped "G III, R" (for King George III).

By 1795 official standards had been established for Newfoundland, Lower Canada (now Québec) and Upper Canada (now Ontario) and were generally of brass or copper. The Canada Science and Technology Museum’s earliest dated standards are a set of nested Troy ounce weights dated 1796 and marked "G.R" and "Lower Canada".

Also associated with Lower Canada are a pair of volume standards which date to early in Queen Victoria’s reign (around 1840). The "chopine" (the smaller) is approximately 1 litre or 1 US quart.

Britain established a new scientifically based metrology system in 1824 (Imperial standards) but the new standard yard was lost when fire destroyed the British Parliament. The standard yard illustrated is one of fifteen made between 1841 and 1845 by the London firm of Troughton and Simms to replace the one destroyed. These were made using a new low-expansion alloy called Baily’s Metal (copper, tin and zinc).

In 1855, the Troy pound (5760 grains) was replaced by a pound of 7000 grains ("Avoirdupois" measures). This set, made to the new standard, is called the Queen Anne weights and was used in Newfoundland from around 1855 to 1936.
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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