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Banner: Written in Stone: William E. Logan and the Geological Survey of Canada
Interpreting the Collections
The Digital Collections
Partner Institutions


William Logan: Author

William Logan: Biography

William Logan: Documents




Geological Maps

Interpreting the Collections


Photograph of William Logan commemorating his retirement in 1869

Sir William Logan, 1869

Sir William Edmond Logan (1798-1875) has been recognized consistently, from his own day to ours, as Canada's first great scientist. He founded the Geological Survey of Canada, which has been of inestimable value to the country for over 160 years. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1856, causing national celebrations. His fame rests on the geological maps, publications, and exhibits that his Survey produced, but the original source materials that made these accomplishments possible have never received the attention they deserve. Logan's field notebooks and personal journals are dispersed over several archives; now, for the first time, they are reunited thanks to the collaboration of Library and Archives Canada and its partner institutions -- McGill University Archives, the National Library of Wales, Natural Resources Canada and the Toronto Public Library.

Photograph of William Logan's open notebook, showing text, a drawing and calculations

William Logan's notebook

The documents available through this digital portal begin with Logan's first geological observations in North America -- made between 1840 and 1841 -- and go on to cover his early years of fieldwork for the Geological Survey of Canada, two decades of official reports, the thousand-page Geology of Canada (1863) and several important early geological maps. Together, these materials show how a small group of scientists were able to explore, measure, and map the Province of Canada (which was then limited to southern Ontario and Quebec). The way Logan and his colleagues presented their geological knowledge to Canadians, and to the world, changed perceptions of this land forever.