Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy 214th Birthday Sir William Logan

Today is the birthday of Sir William Logan, the father of Canadian geology and the founder of the Canadian Geological Survey.

Sir William Logan 1869

William Edmond Logan was born in Montreal, Quebec on April 20, 1798. He was educated in Edinburgh, Scotland and became interested in geology when he was operating a family owned coal mining and copper smelting business in Swansea, Wales. As he grew more interested in geology he produced a map of the coal seams in the district and the strata beneath them. His primary observation was that the strata underlying the coal always contained numerous fossils of plants and he concluded that the the coal was formed from these plants. This was a major step forward in the understanding of coal at the time, which was one of the most important commodities of the time.

Logan then returned to Canada and his experience and insight led to him becoming the first director of the newly formed Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) in 1842. He mapped large swathes of eastern Quebec, the Ottawa Valley and the north shore of Lakes Huron and Superior. He also established the Geological Survey of Canada Museum in Montreal in 1857.

Geological Map by Sir William Logan and James Hall 1869

Sir William Logan was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1855 and retired from the GSC in 1869 at the age of 71 and after the publication of his work the Geology of Canada. He passed away in Wales on June 22, 1875.

Page from the Geology of Canada

His imprint on the development of geology in Canada was and is still profound to this day. His pioneering efforts, painstaking observations of fossils and minerals and collecting paved the way for the next wave of geologists in Canada and the exploration of Canada's mineral wealth. He is honoured by having Mt. Logan, the highest peak in Canada named after him as well as the Logan Medal which is the highest honour in Canadian geology. Finally the mineral Weloganite, found in Montreal, is named for him.

Mount Logan, Yukon



A great source where you can see everything about William Logan, including his personal notebooks.

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