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More on John Macoun (1831-1920)
Like William Logan, science was a second career for John Macoun. He loved travelling and collecting more than anything else. While other scientists focused on analysis, description and classification of individual species, Macoun simply gathered as many specimens as possible and left the technical work to others. He had an excellent ability to spot new species in the wild. His collections were very large, but unfortunately not well organized or preserved. Despite this, Alfred Selwyn was happy to hire Macoun in 1881 as a naturalist. Macoun's expeditions took him to every region in Canada. He also played a major part in developing the Geological Survey's museum. In 1912, John Macoun suffered a stroke; he retired and went to live on Vancouver Island.
John Macoun described an assignment in the Gaspé, during his first year with the Geological Survey of Canada, in 1882:
"When we reached the river Ste. Anne des Monts, the parties separated and Dr. Ells and his party went up the coast with the exception of Mr. A.P. Low and myself. We went up the river in two canoes, with French boatmen for the purpose of climbing the Shick-Shock mountains. We went up the river for over thirty miles and then climbed from the river up to the summit of the mountain which overlooked the St. Lawrence and all the country for a long distance. My purpose in going up was to study the flora at the summit as I had never seen a species growing which we called Arctic. Hitherto I had never climbed a mountain, except one in 1875, and knew nothing of the plants to be collected. On reaching the summit, we found an extensive plateau and came on fine specimens of cariboo which gazed at us for a time and then ran off. We spent three days on the summit and I collected a large number of Arctic plants ï¿½ While on the summit, I was attacked by black flies and I was semi-delirious on account of the pain for almost all the time I was there. ï¿½ The remainder of the season, I collected around Gaspé and there I obtained many sea-weeds ï¿½."
(John Macoun, 1882)