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Sir William Edmond Logan


1798 - 1875

Geologist. Born in Montreal of Scottish parents who had grown wealthy in Canada, Logan began his education there before returning to Scotland in 1814 to attend the High School and University of Edinburgh. Here Robert Jameson (1774 - 1854) stimulated his interest in geology and other influences included Thomas Hope (1766 - 1844) and Sir James Hall (1761 - 1832). He worked with his uncle in London (1817-30) and was appointed manager of a colliery and copper-smelting works near Swansea in 1831. His interest in geology blossomed. He mapped parts of the South Wales coal-field and gave a celebrated paper at the Geological Society of London in 1840, in which he suggested the clay underlying coal seams had once been the soil on which the coal-forming plants had grown. He confirmed this hypothesis on visits to the USA and Canada.

Logan founded and became the first Director of the Geological Survey of Canada (1842-69). Although offered the Directorship of the Survey of India in 1845, he remained in Canada and worked extraordinarily hard to ensure large areas of that country were mapped. Despite being something of an eccentric, he also made significant scientific contributions, such as recognising that the Laurentian series of rocks were some of the oldest in the world. He established the Canadian Geological Museum in 1856 and was knighted the same year.

Logan is well respected as a pioneering geologist who enabled the discovery of minerals which remain important to Canada's prosperity to this day. He is remembered in the names of numerous geographical features including Mount Logan, Canada's highest mountain; the mineral Weloganite (named in his honour in 1968); various fossil species; Logan Hall, part of the Geological Survey of Canada headquarters in Ottawa; the Logan Chair in Geology at McGill University and the Logan Medal, the highest award of the Geological Association of Canada.

He returned to Britain on his retirement and died at Castle Malgwyn in SW Wales.


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