Flash News!

Montreal Engineer Robert Alexander Ross Resigns as NRC Chairman!

One Hundred Years Ago Today


Another 2022 Anniversary in the History of Canadian Science and Technology

First posted Friday, March 4, 2022 / Yom shishi, Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5782

By David Orenstein

Last year, in another post (August 20, 2021), I was telling you about the Montreal Electrical Engineer, Robert Alexander Ross, and his time as the Chairman of the National Research Council (NRC). And I concluded by saying that Ross eventually resigned in disgust due to lack of support for actual scientific research at the NRC.

And here is that story.

Yet again, when it comes to the early history of the NRC, I use Thistle (1966) as my main source.

Ross addressed his resignation letter “to [Prime Minister] the Rt. Hon. [William Lyon] Mackenzie King … 4 March 1922”, exactly a century ago! Therein Ross recounts how the day before he had met with top Mines Department bureaucrats Charles Camsel and McLeish. They had told Ross that there would be no more financial support for “the Lignite Board… in spite of the fact that the Board has been promised the support of the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba….

“Under these circumstances there is nothing for me to do but to tender my resignation as Chairman of the Lignite Utilization Board…. [and] my membership of the Peat Board….”

Since Government policy “appears to be… departmental handling of research…, I tender to you my resignation as Chairman of the Research Council… and also my membership….

“I… hold myself in readiness to turn over all information and documents….”

Definitely a resignation Grand Slam!

Another Montrealer, McGill University geologist, Frank Dawson Adams, took over as NRC Chairman on a pro tem basis. Adams was confirmed in the job on May 30, 1922.

But that’s another story!



NRC 1921

R.F. Ruttan New NRC Chair Centennial Post, February 19, 2021.


R.A. Ross New NRC Chair Centennial Post, August 20, 2021.



R.A. Ross in DCB, English.


R.A. Ross dans DBC, français.



Mel Thistle, 1966, The Inner Ring: The Early History of the National Research Council of Canada, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, xxxiii + 435 pp., incl. Ref. list in each ch., 13 pp.

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