George Mercer Dawson – What’s in a name?

(By Ingrid Birker, Science Outreach Coordinator)

Painting of Kootenai [sic] Pass

"View in mts 10 m. N. of Kootenai Pass". Painting by George Mercer Dawson, 1862-1863.

The other day I was attending a meeting in the Dean of Science’s office, located on the second floor of Dawson Hall. I peered out, and the first thing I saw was a dell of trees—some exotic and some local, some wizened with age and some youthful and upright—where preschoolers love to play. From the Dean of Arts window, just across the hall, I can view the new outdoor skating rink created on the field in front of the Redpath Museum. About 150 years ago the view from this window would have shown a pasture with a few grazing Holstein cows on either side of a muddy track leading up to the Arts Building. At that time, Dawson Hall, located to the east of the Arts Building, would have been the home of the Dawson family, headed by McGill’s fourth Principal, Sir John William Dawson; today, Dawson Hall houses administrative offices of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Arts. The Dean of Science office occupies the Dawson family’s Drawing Room, a place where they would have withdrawn from daily life and academics. The historical photo showing Principal Dawson and his wife poised for their 50th Anniversary was taken in the Dean of Arts’ office which was Principal Dawson’s study. Beside them to the left, on the mantle above the granite fireplace, rests a small carved Haida totem, made from green- tinted ‘BC Jade’ or serpentine from the northern Rockies. It was collected by their son, George Mercer Dawson, when he explored and worked in western Canada in the 1880s, meeting First Nations people and studying their languages and customs. While studying the coal deposits of the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1878, he studied, photographed, and prepared a comprehensive report on the Haida people. He also published papers about the First Nations of the Yukon, northern British Columbia, and Vancouver Island, and the Shuswap people of central British Columbia. (more…)

Mini-Science 2011 – From the chemistry of chicken soup to the chemistry of the brain and behaviour

Mini-Science logoAt the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evening’s presenter, who answers as many as possible on the spot. Three of the unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Amir Raz’s lecture “From the chemistry of chicken soup to the chemistry of the brain and behaviour” (March 23, 2011).
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Mini-Science 2011 – Chemicals for better and for worse

Mini-Science logo At the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evening’s presenter, who answers as many as possible on the spot. Three of the unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Joe Schwarcz’s lecture “Chemicals for better and for worse” (March 16, 2011).
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