A History of Physics and Astronomy to 2003


The University of Western Ontario was founded in 1878, with the Physics program beginning in 1915. Astronomy was introduced not long afterwards by mathematician Harold R. Kingston.

During the intervening 100 years, the Department of Physics and Astronomy has grown into a world class research and teaching facility and has shown that it is a leader in many fields.

In the late 1990's the late Professor Donald R. Moorcroft began to compile a history of Physics and Astronomy.  He later updated it to include up to the year 2003. Much of the knowledge we provide here is based on the Don's work, both published and unpublished. Don's love of photography led to his uncovering of many historic images. As well, Don took an interest in the history of the Physics and Astronomy building itself, and he lived to see the latest renovations completed in September of 2012.  Don photographed and archived the stone carvings that grace the exterior of the Physics and Astronomy building.

In addition to Don's work, we provide extra material on some of the prominent figures in our history.

In the words of the late Don Moorcroft:

"Two or three years ago (circa 1997) I agreed to contribute a history of the Department of Physics and Astronomy to the Canadian Association of Physicists for publication in Physics in Canada, as one of what they eventually hope will be a complete series of histories of all the physics departments in Canada.

Recently I completed that task and have made it available as this set of web pages...

See the menu on the left to navigate through the full set of history pages.

In the course of working on that history I have uncovered a considerable number of old photographs, with pictures of former faculty and students, many of whom are not known to me. Please take a look at my Gallery of Old Photographs, and if you have any additions or corrections to the information I give there please pass them on to me.

I have collected much more information than I have been able to put into the CAP history, and have in mind to eventually prepare a more detailed history for the Department. If, after reading what I have here, you are reminded of some facts or stories about the department, I would very much appreciate hearing about them. Also, if you know someone who might be able to add to the history of the department, please let them know about these web pages, and/or let me know how to contact them."

D. R. Moorcroft

Published on  and maintained in Cascade CMS.