Meteorological Service of Canada

In the early 19th century, mariners were still at the mercy of weather. Telegraphs allowed warnings of storms to be passed from town to town in the 1830s and gradually an informal network of observers formed. Researchers began to discover some of the fundamental principles of meteorology, for example, the relation between winds and the boundary between high and low pressure areas. George Kingston (University of Toronto) proposed the establishment of a network of observers to provide weather information to mariners. The Meteorological Service (MSC) was founded in 1870 and has grown in importance for all segments of the population--fishermen, farmers, pilots, truckers and you.

Kingston was an inventive fellow who worked with Toronto instrument maker James Foster to design several new instruments. One, a long-shaft anemometer, determined and recorded wind speed and direction. The MSC’s staff maintained this innovative spirit and fifty years later John Patterson designed what has become the world standard anemometer.

In 1931 G.M.B. Dobson described an instrument to measure the atmospheric spectral lines created by ozone (O3) in the atmosphere. By the 1960s, advances in optical design and electronics suggested a better way. Research was undertaken by A.W. Brewer at the University of Toronto and the Brewer ozone spectrometer significantly improved on Dobson’s design by allowing virtually simultaneous observations of Sun and sky.

SED Systems of Saskatoon developed a travelling ozone spectrometer in 1979. This travelled throughout the world to obtain measurements for comparison with observations made with the Dobson units. Today there are approximately 140 Brewer units worldwide with 20 in Canada. MSC is the world calibration centre for all ozone-observing equipment and has three in continuous operation as the standards.
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

© 2001, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans