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Alexander Murray


1811 - 1885

Geologist. Born in Crieff (Perth and Kinross), Murray was educated at the Royal Naval College (Portsmouth) and went on to serve in the British Navy (1825-35), rising to the rank of Lieutenant. He arrived in Canada in 1837 and supported the British colonial government against the rebellion led by William Lyon Mackenzie (1795 - 1861). In 1842, he was appointed as assistant to fellow Scot Sir William Logan (1798 - 1875) who had just established the Geological Survey of Canada in Montreal. Murray mapped the rocks of the Great Lakes region. In 1864, he was appointed Director of the Geological Survey of Newfoundland. Murray set about undertaking the first accurate survey of the island, producing both topographical and geological maps. He was the first to thoroughly explore the interior and wrote in detail on the available minerals. A direct result of all of this work was that the industrial and agricultural potential of Newfoundland could be realised.

In 1875, Murray was able to provide his old friend Sir Sandford Fleming (1827 - 1915), the builder of the Canadian Pacific Railway, with the best route for a railway across Newfoundland. With his assistant, James Howley, Murray was also responsible for the core of the geological collections of the Newfoundland Museum. He retired in 1883.

The Alexander Murray building is home to the Earth Science department of Memorial University (Newfoundland).


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