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More on Robert Bell (1841-1917)
Robert Bell joined the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) when he was just a teenager, thanks to his father's friendship with William Logan. Over the years, he explored almost every part of Canada, making him the most experienced and generally knowledgeable member of the GSC staff. Some of Bell's most interesting fieldwork was the study of the Arctic coast of Quebec and Labrador. He was fascinated with the Inuit and took many photographs of them. Although Robert Bell eventually became the director of the Geological Survey after George Dawson's death, it was only for five years and only on a temporary basis. Bell was one of the government's oldest and most loyal employees but was not given the recognition he felt he deserved.
"While working in new territory we also take advantage of the opportunity to obtain heights of banks or cliffs, hills and mountains and comparative levels of waters, grades and depths of streams and lakes, records of the temperature of the air and water and of other meteorological observations as indications of climate, notes as to the kinds and characters of the forest trees and on the flora generally; also as to the fauna, the collection of zoological and botanical specimens, making notes on the nature of the surface of the country, whether hilly or level, rocky, swampy or covered with soil, the character of the land, and on various other matters. We also enquire from the natives as to the topography, etc., of regions beyond our own explorations. Photographs are taken to illustrate the geology, scenery, the character of streams, etc."
(Robert Bell, GSC Annual Report, 1901)
"Memorandum Great Whale River Augt 1st 1877. 3 Boxes specimens etc. addressed 'R. Bell. Montreal' To go ï¿½ to Moose Factory. The following -- To remain at Great Whale River for our return: 1 keg with pork -- 2 Boxes with sundries -- 1 Bag (full) flour -- 2 Hams -- 1 Water barrel -- 1 shot gun. Will Mr Spencer kindly get 'Crow' and his friends to draw carefully a sketch map of coast of H[udson]. Bay & canoe route all way to Fort Chimo. Also a sketch map of Great Whale River and if possible Little Whale River."
(Robert Bell, 1877)