The Canadian Institute

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The Canadian Institute

Parallel form(s) of name

  • The Royal Canadian Institute (1914); The Royal Canadian Institute for Science

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The Canadian Institute was established in 1849 by Sir Sandford Fleming and Kivas Tullyand. It received a Royal Charter in 1951. The Institute's purpose was "promoting the physical sciences, for encouraging and advancing the industrial arts and manufactures for effecting the formation of a Provincial Museum, and for the purpose of facilitating the acquirement and the dissemination of knowledge connected with the Surveying, Engineering and Architectural Professions.". The Institute has initiated or encouraged a wide range of scientific endeavours. In 1879 it began to promote Sandford Fleming's concept of standard time and the practicality of a universal prime meridian. Both were adopted at the Washington International Time Conference in 1884. In 1885 the Institute opened the first Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Ontario. Its large collections, particularly in provincial archaeology, ornithology and mineralogy, were transferred to the newly founded Royal Ontario Museum in 1924. In 1893, the Institute saw the establishment of Algonquin Provincial Park, a project it had long and actively supported, and in 1914 it created the Bureau of Science and Industrial Research, a forerunner of the National Research Council of Canada. As knowledge became more specialized the Institute formed sections that often became independent organizations. For example, in 1888 the Photographic Section became the Toronto Camera Club which still operates successfully. In 1914 the Institute was given permission to add the prefix Royal to its name. About the same time it expanded its mandate to include public education in science and technology through a fall and winter lecture series. These lectures are still offered free to the public and are given voluntarily by some of Canada's most distinguished scientists. During the 1980s these lectures were broadcast under the title Speaking of Science. In 1982, the Institute awarded its first annual Sandford Fleming medal to Dr. David Suzuki for outstanding contributions by a Canadian to the public understanding of science. Recognizing the importance of bringing science to a young audience, the Institute founded the Youth Science Association in 1989, which is run largely by high school students through a lively lecture and field trip series. To celebrate its 150th anniversary in 1999, the RCI published Special Places: The Changing Ecosystems of the Toronto Region containing 39 contributions by specialists on the ecology of the area.


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