The Patterson Medal
Honour Roll of Winners
of the Patterson Medal
The Patterson Distinguished
Medal is presented each year for
distinguished service to meteorology in Canada. The medal was
in honour of Dr. John Patterson (1872-1956), Controller (director) of
Meteorological Service of Canada from 1929 to 1946.
Born in Oxford County, Ontario,
Patterson took degrees in Engineering
in 1899 and the following year in Physics at the University of
He won the Gold Medal in the latter subject and was awarded a two-year
scholarship enabling him to attend Cambridge University where he
an MA. He was then appointed Professor of Physics at the
of Allahabad a position he relinquished in 1905 to become Imperial
for the Government of India. He returned to Canada in 1910 to become
meteorological physicist responsible for organizing upper air
in Canada. In 1917 he was loaned to the British Admiralty to take
of investigations to extract helium from natural gas. After the
Patterson spent several years designing a new barometer for operational
use and perfecting a new 3-cup anemometer which was later used
by meteorological services. In 1924 he was appointed Assistant
and in 1929 he succeeded Sir Frederic Stupart as Director of the
Service of Canada..
Despite budget reductions in the
Depression years of the early 1930s,
Dr. Patterson modernized the Service and, recognizing the need to
more science into weather forecasting, he persuaded the University of
to establish a postgraduate degree program in physics (meteorology). In
1937, the meteorological service became part of Air Services of the new
Department of Transport and resources became available for aviation
Then, Patterson organized meteorological services for both
experimental flights and scheduled flying of the new Trans-Canada Air
(now Air Canada). After World War II began Canada became the host
for aircrew training under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
the need for aviation meteorological services expanded tenfold.
Dr. Patterson's leadership hundreds of new meteorologists were trained
and sent to serve at dozens of Royal Canadian Air Force stations.
When Dr. Patterson retired in 1946
colleagues and friends established
a fund to award a medal in his name and the first one was presented to
him in 1954. Following a gap of seven years, the medal has been
annually since 1961. The Meteorological Service of Canada now funds the
medal. The Assistant Deputy Minister chairs the the Patterson
Medal Committee which is composed of senior managers from MSC as
as representatives from the private sector and academia.
are solicited each year and the nominees are judged solely on the basis
of the information provided by the nominators and not by any personal
supplementary knowledge the Committee members may possess.
Although not a CMOS Award,
Medal is traditionally announced during the CMOS Congress.
MSC has kindly agreed to allow the CMOS Web Site to contain the Honour
Roll of Patterson Medal Winners
revised: 14 April 2018