International Polar Year - 1932

Director and IPY Technical Advisors and Staff (See Notes below)

back row (l to r): Prof. Balfour W Currie, EH Vestine, Stuart McVeigh, JE Lilly, Ratje Charles Jacobsen.
front row: John Plewman Rea, Walter EW Jackson, John Patterson, Andrew Thomson, Frank T Davies.

Notes re IPY 1932:

Prof. Balfour W Currie had a PhD and was a junior on staff at the U of Saskatchewan.  He returned there and had his whole career at U of S.  His younger brother was Don Currie who was an operational meteorologist who forecasted out of Edmonton.

EH Vestine and Stuart McVeigh were postgraduate students, probably Toronto; it is not known what happened to them.

JE Lilly, of Acadia University was in charge of magnetic station Meanook, the nearest permanent observatory to the north magnetic pole.
He later became Director and Dominion Geodesist 1957-1967.

Ratje Charles Jacobsen, after 1933, was a pilot, flew and supervised RCAF upper air sounding flights at Fort Smith in 1934 when Canada and US jointly studied polar air masses.  He was probably under contract since he did not become a staff member until 1936 when he was one of the first to go to Newfoundland where he again flew "APOBS" with Hugh Bindon, looking after the instruments which were mostly read manually while in the air.  After a year or two, he returned to Head Office where he became head of the Instruments Section when Middleton went to Optics in NRC at Ottawa in 1946.

* John Plewman Rea died in 1945. His mother Mary "Minnie" Rea was a nurse at Regina College, which eventually became University of Saskatchewan, and John was a student there. Minnie and John probably got to know Balfour Currie and Frank Davies there. John went to the Arctic as a general assistant to the expedition. His diary tells how he went ahead of the group to make sure all the supplies were in order. His tasks including cooking meals taking care of fire wood and other duties. Following the expedition he gave a number of talks to groups regarding  life in the Arctic. He married in 1934 and worked at Malton Airport as a weatherman and perhaps as an early air controller working in the little round room on the top of Malton Airport. He then undertook an apprenticeship for his electrical engineering papers working with Canada Electric during the war. He was stationed in Newfoundland for a while. He graduated in 1943 and he and his wife bought a house in Churchville, Ontario where he is buried.

Walter EW Jackson was a magnetician and deputy director of the Observatory and Service.

John Patterson
had become director of the Observatory and Service in 1929.

Andrew Thomson returned to Canada and joined the staff as the atmospheric physicist early in 1932.  Later in 1936 when the reorganization took place Jackson was transferred to the Ottawa Observatory and Thomson became deputy director. Thomson began acting as assistant or deputy director in 1936 but was not officially appointed until 1940.

Frank T Davies may have come from Britain or New Zealand but remained in Canada and became a noted scientist in the early National Research Council or another department in Ottawa.

photo reference: Canadian Polar Year Expedition, 1932-33 Vol. 1, Meteorology (Ottawa: King's Printer, 1940), 452 pages.

notes from Morley K Thomas, January 2007

* note from John Gilbert, September 2019

Return to Index