Coal seams and copper: W.E. Logan and the geological map

William Logan, 1856

William Logan, 1856

Henry Thomas De la Beche (1796-1855), founder of the British Geological Survey, about 1841.

Henry Thomas De la Beche (1796-1855), founder of the British Geological Survey, about 1841.

"I worked like a slave all summer on the gulph of St Lawrence, living the life of a savage, inhabiting an open tent, sleeping on the beach in a blanket and sack, with my feet to the fire, seldom taking my clothes off, eating salt pork & ship's biscuit, occasionally tormented by mosquitoes".

Letter from Logan to De la Beche, 20 April 1844.


Logan in Canada

With his geological skills honed on the coal rocks of Swansea, in 1841 Logan applied for the post of first Director of the Geological Survey of Canada. His application was supported by many of the leading British geologists, including Henry De la Beche, and he was appointed in April 1842.

By 1849 he and four staff had mapped the area between the St Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, worked on the coal deposits of Nova Scotia, and found copper ore to the east of Montreal. In 1851, he prepared a display of ore minerals from Canada for the Great Exhibition in London.

In 1863, Logan and his staff published the first major study of the geology of Canada. It is regarded as the pinnacle of Canadian scientific publishing in the 19th century. This was followed by the publication of maps in 1865 and 1869.

Logan returns to Wales

Logan was knighted in 1856, the first native-born Canadian to receive a knighthood. He was also honoured by France, the Royal Society, the Geological Society, Bishop's University in Quebec, and McGill University in Montreal, as well as by the citizens of Toronto and Montreal.

Although Logan officially retired in 1869, he continued summer fieldwork around Montreal and spent winters at his sister's house in west Wales. He died there in June 1875 and is buried in the churchyard at Cilgerran in Pembrokeshire.

Today, William Edmond Logan is recognized as Canada's most important scientist of all time. And it was in Wales that his geological career began.

External links

Swansea Museum

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