Fonds F-65 - Patrick McTaggart-Cowan fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Patrick McTaggart-Cowan fonds

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  • Photographic materials
  • Artefacts
  • Textual records

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on provenance of the collection.

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  • 1929 - 1998 (Creation)
    McTaggart-Cowan, Patrick

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Physical description

3.71 m of textual records
ca. 400 photographs
17 artifacts

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1912 - 1997)

Biographical history

Patrick McTaggart-Cowan was a distinguished meteorologist who served as the first president of SFU.

McTaggart-Cowan was born in Edinburgh on May 31, 1912 and immigrated with his family to Canada in 1913. The McTaggart-Cowan family settled in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Patrick McTaggart-Cowan attended the University of British Columbia, graduating with an honours degree in Mathematics and Physics in 1933. He proceeded to further studies at Oxford as a British Columbia Rhodes Scholar, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Science in 1936. In 1939 McTaggart-Cowan married Margaret Palmer, with whom he had two children: a daughter, Gillian, born in 1942; and a son, James Duncan, born in 1944. Patrick McTaggart-Cowan passed away in 1997 at the age of 85.

Patrick McTaggart-Cowan was well known in Canada as a meteorologist, scientist and educator. After Oxford, he joined the Meteorological Service of Canada. As officer in charge of the meteorological service in Newfoundland from 1937 to 1942, he pioneered weather services for the first transatlantic passenger flights. During W.W.II, McTaggart-Cowan was chief meteorologist for the RAF Ferry Command, and was responsible for forecasting weather conditions for delivery of airplanes from North America to Europe. McTaggart-Cowan's skill in forecasting won him the gratitude of hundreds of pilots ferrying planes across the Atlantic, and earned him membership as an Officer of the British Empire in 1944. From 1945 to 1963, McTaggart-Cowan worked for the Meteorological Service of Canada in Ontario, where he became the Director in 1959. In 1963, McTaggart-Cowan accepted the position as first president of Simon Fraser University, and moved back to British Columbia. He helped to guide construction of the University, oversaw the hiring of professional staff, and helped to set up the academic structure of the university which opened in 1965. In 1968, McTaggart-Cowan was asked to resign his position as President by the Board of Governors. McTaggart-Cowan went on to head the Science Council of Canada from 1968 until his retirement in 1975. While with the Science Council, he was appointed by the federal Minister of Transport to head the Task Force Operation Oil in 1970 to clean up the oil spill in Chedabucto Bay, Nova Scotia. After retirement, McTaggart-Cowan moved to his farm in Bracebridge, Ontario where he continued to take an active part in environmental and science policy issues, such as acid rain, water pollution, and science education. He also became a beekeeper.

Patrick Duncan McTaggart-Cowan was the recipient of a number of international medals and honours. His national contributions earned him 7 honourary doctorates from across Canada, including those from the University of British Columbia and from Simon Fraser University.

He was created an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1979. In addition, he received a Coronation Medal in 1953 and the Canada Centennial Medal in 1967. For further information, see autobiographical notes, F 65-1-0-1.

Custodial history

The McTaggart-Cowan family retained custody of the fonds until 1998 when they donated it to the SFU Archives.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records made, received, and collected by Patrick McTaggart-Cowan in both his personal and professional life. Records document McTaggart-Cowan's work in Newfoundland both before and during W.W.II, his time with the Meteorological Service of Canada, as President of Simon Fraser University, as head of the Science Council, as head of Task Force Operation Oil and his activities after he retired. Also includes personal records relating to family, education, friends, and personal interests.

Includes autobiographical records, correspondence, diaries, journals, scrapbooks, notepads, financial records, speeches, publications, photographs, and artifacts.

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The materials were arranged by the Archivist.

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Restrictions on access

Some files may contain personal or confidential information. Access to these files may be restricted as stipulated by Archives policy or the donor. Files marked 'pending review' must be reviewed by an archivist prior to release, and as a result of the review access restrictions may apply. Please see the file lists and consult the archivist for more details.

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Finding aids

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Finding aid

Associated materials

See the inventory for the Office of the President, F 27. Also see a set of three audio cassette interviews, Patrick McTaggart-Cowan by Robin Fisher, September 6, 1989.

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All accessions have been processed as of May 2006. No further accruals are expected.

General note

Financial assistance for the arrangement and description of the records and production of the finding aid was generously provided by James McTaggart-Cowan and the Office of the President (SFU).

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Finding aid prepared by Krisztina Laszlo, Frances Fournier, Enid Britt, (October 1999). Updated by Richard Dancy, Frances Fournier, Enid Britt (January 2001); revised by Lisa Beitel (February 2006); accruals processed and description revised by Lisa Beitel (May 2006); new item-numbering system implemented (November 2012).

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