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A Canadian Knight

Photograph of William Logan

Sir William Logan
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The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) was originally created to find coal and other minerals to fuel the Province of Canada's mining industry. It was not meant to last for long. Even though its first director, William Logan, did not discover coal he did make some important geological discoveries. He also brought the GSC international recognition by publicizing his finds in creative ways.

Starting in the mid-1800s European countries held large international exhibitions, or world fairs. Countries liked to show off their natural resources and technological advances at these exhibitions. The 1851 World Fair Exhibition was held in London, England. Many countries sent samples of their products and resources.

Painting of the Canadian exhibit at the London World Fair, 1851

In the text that accompanied this painting
of the Canadian exhibit in the London World Fair of 1851,
Logan was the only person mentioned by name
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William Logan put together an impressive display of Canada's minerals. His exhibit was a huge success. Logan was asked to participate in the 1855 Exhibition in Paris, France. This time Logan added a geological map of Canada to the display. He also prepared a booklet describing Canada's minerals with the help of his geochemist, Thomas Sterry Hunt. Visitors to this World Fair were impressed with the exhibit, with Canada's rich resources and with the work of the Canadian geological survey. The exhibit won a first prize. Queen Victoria was so taken with what Logan had done that she knighted him. Upon his return to Canada, Logan was celebrated at fancy dinners in Toronto and Montréal. He had become a true superstar!

Newsworthy Nugget

GSC chemist Thomas Sterry Hunt invented the green ink that is used on dollar bills in the United States. This special green ink, made from chromium trioxide, cannot be copied by photography or photocopiers. It also cannot be erased or destroyed by acid. This makes a counterfeiter's job very difficult!

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In His Own Words

"Of all the British Colonies, Canada is that whose exhibition is the most interesting and the most complete, and one may even say it is superior, so far as the mineral kingdom is concerned, to all countries that have forwarded their products to the Exhibition."

(A. Dufrénoy, Inspector-General of Mines, France)


Photograph of Logan's gold medal from the 1855 Paris exhibition

Logan's exhibit of Canada's resources won the gold medal at the 1855 Paris Exhibition
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Photograph of Logan's 1856 Wollaston Medal, back and front

Logan's 1856 Wollaston Medal, granted by the Geological Society of London. It was the highest honour awarded by geologists for geologists
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