The game is six degrees of Canadian history. Take two seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian culture and connect the dots through various people, places and events to discover how they’re distantly — or maybe not-so-distantly — related. Along the way, we visit the quizzical and curious, the tragic and comic, and everything in between.
George Lawson, botanist (b at Logan, Scot 12 Oct 1827; d at Halifax 10 Nov 1895). Lawson studied natural and physical sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Assistant secretary and curator for the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, he also worked in Britain's first biological laboratory.
Titus Smith, naturalist, surveyor, traveller, agriculturist (b at Granby, Mass 4 Sept 1768; d at Dutch Village near Halifax 4 Jan 1850). To his innate interest in all natural studies, Smith brought a mind well schooled in botany and a keen interest in the conservation of animal and plant life.
Bernhard Adolf Hantzsch, explorer, ornithologist (d near the mouth of Hantzsch R, NWT June 1911). Hantzsch sailed with a German ornithological expedition to the eastern Arctic in 1906 and during that summer explored and collected specimens along the coast of Ungava Bay and northern Labrador.
Margaret Anne Wilson Thompson, human geneticist (born at Northwich, England 7 January 1920, died 3 November 2014 in Toronto, ON). She obtained a BA in 1943 from the University of Saskatchewan and a PhD in 1948 from the University of Toronto, where she studied under the pioneering human geneticist Norma Ford Walker.
Victor John Harding, professor of pathological chemistry (b in Eng 23 Oct 1885; d at Toronto 3 July 1934). Graduating in chemistry from Owen's College, Manchester (DSc, 1912), Harding began an association with McGill in 1910. He became associate professor of physiological chemistry in 1917.
Hardolph Wasteneys, professor of biochemistry (b at Richmond, Eng Apr 1881; d at Toronto 1 Feb 1965). As a boy Wasteneys went to Australia and found employment in government laboratories dealing with water purification. He moved to California about 1909 to study this subject further.
Robert William Stewart, scientist (born at Smoky Lake, Alta 21 Aug 1923; died at Victoria, BC, 19 January 2005). Robert Stewart was known internationally for original work in turbulence, oceanography and meteorology, and was a recognized authority on exchange processes between ocean and atmosphere.
Julie Payette, CC, CMM, COM, CQ, CD, astronaut, engineer, jet pilot, musician (born 20 October 1963 in Montréal, QC). Payette participated in two space flights to the International Space Station, STS-96 (1999) and STS-127 (2009), and served as the chief astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007. In 1999, she became the first Canadian to board the International Space Station. An accomplished scientific authority, musician and athlete, Payette is a board member of Own the Podium and a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s board of directors. In July 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Payette will become Canada’s 29th governor general, succeeding David Johnston. Payette became Governor General on 2 October 2017.
Evelyn Merle Roden Nelson, mathematician, professor (born 25 November 1943 in Hamilton, ON; died 1 August 1987 in Hamilton, ON). A brilliant mathematical mind, Evelyn Nelson fought gender barriers in a discipline long dominated by men to become a rising star in the field both in Canada and abroad. She contributed to the fields of universal algebra, equational compactness and formal language theory. Nelson was particularly interested in applying universal algebra to the then-burgeoning field of computer science. She was a devoted teacher, sought-after research partner and the author of over 40 publications during what was a tragically short career.
Cypra Cecilia Krieger, mathematician, professor (born 9 April 1894 in Jasło, Galicia [Poland]; died 17 August 1974 in Toronto, ON). Krieger was the first woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics from a Canadian university (the University of Toronto) and only the third person to be awarded a mathematics doctorate in Canada. She taught mathematics and physics at the University of Toronto for over 30 years. Krieger is best known for her English translation of noted mathematical texts Introduction to General Typology and General Typology.