Fonds MSG 914 - William Edmond Logan Fonds

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William Edmond Logan Fonds

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  • 1837-1871 (Creation)
    Logan, William E. (William Edmond), Sir, 1798-1875

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4.5 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

William Logan, geologist and first director of the Geological Survey of Canada, was born in Montréal and educated there under Alexander Skakel, and briefly at the University of Edinburgh. For a while, he worked in London for the firm of his uncle, Hart Logan; however, he discovered his true geological metier when he drew some exceptionally accurate maps of the coal seams of South Wales, while employed there as a mine manager. His cartographical work won him a reputation with the British scientific community which secured his appointment as director of the Geological Survey of Canada in 1842. Logan's task as director was at once scientific and political. The survey's continued existence depended on public and governmental appreciation, not of scientific research, but of discoveries of potential mineral resources, as well as skilfull public relations through annual reports and exhibitions. Logan particularly excelled at the latter, and his displays of mineral specimens won prizes for Canada at numerous international expositions in the 1850s and 1860s. Meanwhile, Logan continued his field research and mapping with professional assistance from his subordinates Alexander Murray (cartography), Robert Bell and Thomas Sterry Hunt (chemistry) and Elkanah Billings (palaeontology). Logan was the first native Canadian to be elected to the Royal Society (1851), and he was knighted in 1856. He endowed a chair and medal at McGill, where his friend J.W. Dawson was Principal. He retired from the Survey in 1869, and died in Wales in 1875.

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Scope and content

These Logan papers consist of correspondence, 1837-1871; notices of admission to scientific and historical societies, 1842-1867; a history of the geological survey 1850; a report on mining locations addressed to B. Papineau, 1847; and correspondence with Robert Bell, 1861-1874.

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