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Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame

The Hall

William Logan 1798-1875
"It is twelve o'clock at night, and I am bushed... I have had a blow on the head from a great stone weighing half a hundredweight when it fell upon me, fortunately from no great height. I have had a tumble, too, on a slippery stone, striking my elbow; and I put my foot between two stones and pinched my instep; so that I am all bruises, and my limbs are as stiff as sticks. I'll go to bed."

John William Dawson 1820-1899
"All along I studied geology, especially palaeobotany, which is the study of fossils of plants... I used my knowledge of fossil plants to deduce the climatic conditions in which they grew. Our understanding of the botanical morphology and anatomy of Canadian plants grew from the study of extinct plant forms. In most countries it goes the other way!"

Sandford Fleming 1827-1915
"... [a traveller] lands at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, and starts on a railway journey through... Saint John, Québec, Montréal, Ottawa and Toronto. As he reaches each place in succession, he finds a considerable variation in the clocks by which the trains are run, and he discovers that at no two places is the same time used."

Alexander Graham Bell 1847-1922
"Dr. Bell would enter his laboratory and immediately stride over to the telephone and stuff a towel around it. He did this to prevent anyone calling and interrupting his train of thought. He would settle back in his chair, light his pipe and say, 'Now a man can think.' "

Reginald Fessenden 1866-1932
"December 23, 1900...This afternoon, here at Cobb Island, intelligible speech by electromagnetic waves has for the first time in the world's history been transmitted."

Charles Edward Saunders 1867-1937
"Life has many twists and turns. I will be remembered for something, Marquis wheat, which resulted from work which was not even my first passion! I have proven that a person can indeed excel in very different fields and, despite my limitations, I have accomplished much by refusing to give up."

Maude Abbott 1869-1940
"One of my day-dreams, which I feel to be selfish, is that of going to school... If it ever does come to pass that I get my wish, I will try to keep my resolutions (1) to study hard and conscientiously (2) not to get wild etc, as many girls do (3) not to care for competition but for the real study and benefit I derive from it (4) to remember that I go to school for education, not for fun."

Wallace Turnbull 1870-1954
"The crying need today of aëronautics (considered as a science) is research work, and it is simply amazing... to note how few persons are willing to take up the laws of aërodynamics and reduce them to an exact science."

Ernest Rutherford 1871-1937
"[At McGill,] I am expected to do a lot of original work and to form a research school in order to knock the shine out of the Yankees! . . . the physical laboratory is one of the best buildings of its kind in the world, and has a magnificent supply of apparatus."

Harriet Brooks Pitcher 1876-1933
"I think also it is a duty I owe to my profession and to my sex to show that a woman has a right to the practice of her profession and cannot be condemned to abandon it merely because she marries. I cannot conceive how women's colleges, inviting and encouraging women to enter professions can be justly founded or maintained denying such a principle."

Frances Gertrude McGill 1877-1959
"I was always struck by how important forensic pathology could be in criminal investigation and how it contributed to the good of society by helping to ensure that justice, for the guilty and for the innocent, was done."

Alice Evelyn Wilson 1881-1964
"Each layer of rock is a page upon which is printed the story. The words are the rocks themselves and within them the seaweeds and sea-shells now turned to stone. It is a thrilling story, but you have to pay great attention to read and understand it."

Frère Marie-Victorin 1885-1944
"Whether botanist, zoologist, entomologist or geologist we can, by working with sound methodology, make our modest contribution. And it is drops of water that make up the sea. The great works of natural history are built upon the patient analysis of the accumulated material of countless researchers."

J.A.D. McCurdy 1886–1961
"It was a brilliant winter day and the ice of Baddeck Bay was completely free of snow. We wheeled the aircraft out of its shed on the shore amidst the incredulous stares and remarks of a couple of hundred spectators ... [T]he machine was released and after a run of about a hundred feet, took to the air. [I] think the thing that impressed me most was the look of absolute astonishment on the faces of the spectators."

Andrew McNaughton 1887-1966
"I am also deep in the project with the Air Defence Command to develop new methods for producing high velocity [projectiles] by two novel methods. One, electrical, which Ballard knows about, and the other the conical smooth bore gun with a projectile of aerodynamic form..."

Margaret Newton 1887-1971
"Stem rust occurs in every province of Canada... In 1916 the reduction in yield of wheat [caused by rust] was estimated at 100 million bushels, and in 1935, at 87 million bushels..."

Chalmers Jack Mackenzie 1888-1984
". . . I did come out of the First World War with a firm resolution that, in the future, I would allow nothing in the way of misfortune, violent confrontations or frustrations to upset me . . . . Keeping this resolution has, I believe, made for efficiency, objectivity, and peace of mind under conditions of temporary confusion."

Henry Norman Bethune 1890–1939
“For the health of the nation involves more than the personal fate of the private doctor. What we have here is an ethical and moral problem in the field of social and political economics, and not medical economics alone. Medicine must be seen as part of the social structure. It is the product of any given social environment.”


Frederick Banting 1891-1941
"It is not within the power of the properly constructed human mind to be satisfied."

Wilder Penfield 1891-1976
"... I realized that there was a thrilling undiscovered country to be explored in the mechanisms of the mammalian nervous system. Through it, one might approach the mystery of the mind... "

E.W.R. "Ned" Steacie 1900-1962
"He was innovative; visitors noted on his wall a picture of a tortoise with the caption, 'Consider the tortoise: he makes progress only when his neck is out.' "

George J. Klein 1904-1992
"No one really taught me anything like that. I was given the problem and thought of about 15 different ways of getting at it. "

Gerhard Herzberg 1904-1999
"[as a student] I also had an idea about a continuous spectrum of molecular hydrogen, which turned out to be rather foolish, but it did form the beginning of my lifelong interest in the spectrum of molecular hydrogen."

Elizabeth "Elsie" MacGill 1905-1980
"At Ann Arbor I studied aircraft design and wind tunnel work principally. I intend going in for airplane design work professionally."

George C. Laurence 1905–1987
“It is the bringing together of ideas from many sources, and many little ideas, many contributions to the solution of the same general problems, that brings about advances.  Years later, when you try to think back to who had that bright idea, you can’t—it simply evolved out of discussions.  Most of the progress in this science has been through the collective conception of new ideas.”


Helen Sawyer Hogg 1905-1993
"I was nearly a chemist, but the total eclipse of the Sun on January 24, 1925 changed my mind. Our astronomy prof, Anne Young, arranged for us to travel from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts to a site in Connecticut. The glory of the spectacle seems to have tied me to astronomy for life, despite my horribly cold feet as we stood almost knee-deep in snow."

J.-Armand Bombardier 1907-1964
"Someday, I will invent a little machine that will float on snow, and even take me back up these hills!"

Alphonse Ouimet 1908-1988
"It is the whole tremendous potential of television that must be placed at the service of the nation, and not only one-half or one-quarter of it, if we are effectively to stem the tidal wave of imported television which, if added to other factors, would threaten our very Canadian identity and nationhood."

John Tuzo Wilson 1908-1993
"Nobody would dream of teaching science without a lab and that's what a science center is, a science lab for the public where everybody can learn at his own pace."

Arthur Porter 1910-2010
“[That’s] the great thing about the differential analyzer, you can actually perceive a problem being solved. [Y]ou see … the wheels grinding out and the whole problem takes on a new dimension.”

Pierre Dansereau 1911- 2011
"The current preoccupation with productivity ... has led some of us to pose ecological problems in their ultimate terms: energy flow."

M. Vera Peters 1911-1993
“As more and more women become armed with knowledge, mastectomy, in early breast cancer, may become as old fashioned as bloodletting.”

Hugh Le Caine 1914-1977
"When, thanks to the broad humanist view of Dr. Steacie, I was able to work on electronic music legitimately, it was a great source of pleasure to me to think that our widely acknowledged preoccupation with science and technology might be turned to some advantage for the arts ... " Hugh Le Caine at Queen's University 1971

Douglas Harold Copp 1915-1998
"In 1954, I was asked to present a talk on calcium homeostasis at the first Gordon Conference on Bones and Teeth. As I prepared my talk, I soon realized ... it was a virgin field ­ an exciting prospect for a young scientist. I decided then and there to make it the focus of my research career."

Harold Elford Johns 1915-1998
"The problem was, how are you going to deal with a source of 1000 or 2000 curies [a measure of radiation]?  In those days radiation therapy used a few microcuries.  I can remember people at Chalk River saying 'Johns, you're an idiot to want to use such a powerful source of radiation'."

James Hillier 1915-2007
"... we have developed a society, an environment where we are able to support a much larger population than this earth could have supported 100 years ago, and that is done primarily because of technology: technology of production, technology of transportation, technology of communications. (...) Quite apart from any of the intellectual feelings of what technology does to the culture, just to stay alive is going to take technology."

Bertram Neville Brockhouse 1918-2003
"What we basically do in physics is push something and see what happens."

Brenda Milner 1918 -
"Everything was detective work initially, because you could not look into the brain at all… Every clinical clue, every behavioural clue, everything [that patients] could do on tests was giving us clues as to where the epilepsy focus might be."

John "Jack" A. Hopps 1919-1998
"It was a different era of heart surgery from the time of my first experience.... I had entered the world of tomorrow. From now on, my heart would respond to the stimulus of a man-made device. I had a pacemaker."

Gerald Heffernan 1919-
"We were roasting ore under pressure and reducing it with hot hydrogen, trying to change its composition so it would become soluble... The equipment was leaking and the laboratory became saturated with hydrogen. That's when I really blew myself up. I flew six feet and smashed through the door, which fortunately was flimsy."

Raymond Urgel Lemieux 1920-2000
"I decided to gamble on an attempt to synthesize sucrose or sugar. The main challenge was to isolate the desired product (should it be formed in an appreciable amount) from the rather intractable and partially charred gummy material. In 1953, Georg Huber and I announced the synthesis of sucrose. This feat won much acclaim."

Louis Siminovitch 1920-
"It is difficult to overestimate the importance of chance and opportunity in a scientist’s career. Certainly, in my own personal case, there have been many such turning points, and chance has been a recurring theme throughout my career."

From In Celebration of Canadian Scientists: A Decade of Killam Laureates, 1990

Ursula Martius Franklin 1921 -
"I think it is important to realize that technology defined as practice shows us [technology's] deep cultural link … [This saves] us from thinking that technology is the icing on the cake. Technology is part of the cake itself."

Gerald Hatch 1922 – 2014
"I've always stressed that to succeed we need to do our homework; not just our technical homework, but our people homework as well"

Willard Boyle 1924- 2011
"Know how to judge when to persevere and when to quit. If you're going to do something, do it well. You don't have to be better than everyone else, but you ought to do your personal best."

Ernest McCulloch 1926–2011
“We were interested in [cell] function, not what the cell looked like, but what it could do. And as soon as that change happened a whole field of science opened up, based on cell function.”

Sylvia Fedoruk 1927-2012

“So often, many of our ideas are exported and someone else picks up the glory. Ours was a story where, as Canadians, we exploited the original work.”

John Polanyi 1929-
"...nothing is more irredeemably irrelevant than bad science..."

Richard E. Taylor 1929-
"After a great deal of reflection I have decided that quarks are just not funny. They are too small. Most of the time not much happens to a quark, and if something does, it is more likely to be catastrophic than amusing."

From the acceptance speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 1990

Sidney van den Bergh 1929 –
"Of course it's always a bit foolish to tell young people what to do, but I think if people have a chance to do what they enjoy the most, even though it's perhaps not the best-paying job, that's a worthwhile thing to do. Usually you end up doing best the things you like to do the most."

Charles Robert Scriver 1930-

"I am being slowly transformed from a 'biochemical geneticist' into someone concerned with quantitative traits — the complex polygenic multifactial, messy, everyday attributes of life. I find I want to know more about their ultimate and proximate causes."

James Till 1931–

“We developed a genuine collaboration where we talked on equal terms about what kinds of experiments we thought that we’d like to do and which ones should be done. Our names have been linked together so much and for so long.”


Michael Smith 1932-2000
"In this country you can do world-class research as judged by your professional peers."

Hubert Reeves 1932-
"The twenty-first century will be green, or there will not be any twenty-second century."

Kelvin K. Ogilvie 1942 –
"I would sit on the edge of the water and my mind would travel great distances. Eventually I figured out that science was a way I could sail my own seas."

Arthur B. McDonald 1943–
"The research that we are doing is fascinating for the fact that it really bridges the entire Universe. We are attempting to understand the most microscopic laws of physics that describe fundamental particles. And, in so doing, we try to understand the most detailed things about the Universe, how it was created and evolved — in short, the origins of the Universe."

Ransom A. Myers 1952–2007
“I want there to be hammerhead sharks and bluefin tuna around when my five-year-old son grows up. If present fishing levels persist, these great fish will go the way of the dinosaurs.”

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