Fonds MG H 168a - Flat Earth Society of Canada

Title proper

Flat Earth Society of Canada

General material designation

  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents.

Level of description

Fonds

Reference code

CA UNB MG H 168a

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Date(s)

  • 1970-1993, predominant 1970-1984 (Creation)
    Creator
    Flat Earth Society of Canada

Physical description

96 cm of textual records
13 artifacts
4 photographs : 3 b&w and 1 colour ; 15.5 x 20 cm or smaller

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Name of creator

(Organized in 1970, ceased in mid-1980s)

Administrative history

The Flat Earth Society of Canada (FES) was organized at Fredericton, New Brunswick, on 8 November 1970 by Leo Ferrari, Raymond Fraser, and Alden Nowlan. They maintained that a prevailing problem of the new technological age was the willingness of people to accept theories "on blind faith and to reject the evidence of their own senses". To promote critical thinking, the society chose to dispute one thing that "scientific Western civilization" considers indisputable -- namely, that the earth is round.

The organization, therefore, set as its primary aims: "to combat the fallacious deification of the circle", "to restore man's confidence in the validity of his own perceptions", and "to spearhead man's escape from his metaphysical and geometrical prison". "The earth is flat; any fool can see that" was adopted as the society's principal motto. Leo Ferrari, a philosophy professor at St. Thomas University, was the society's long-serving president and primary promoter. Other members of the executive included poet-novelist Raymond Fraser, writer Alden Nowlan, writer-educator Alphonsus J. Pittman, and poet-novelist Gwendolyn MacEwen.

To boost membership and advance the cause of planoterrestialism, the executive issued tractates (two by Nowlan), published a newsletter "The Official Chronical" (later an official organ "The Official Organ"), and distributed promotional literature at public lectures and meetings of the Learned Societies of Canada. Ferrari and Nowlan also promoted the society's aims more widely through television, radio, and the public press. They wrote articles, gave newspaper interviews, and appeared on television and radio programmes such as "This Country in the Morning," "Spectroscope," "Take 30," "W5," and "Front Page Challenge".

The publication of William Johnson's article about the FES in Saturday Review of the Sciences (May 1973) resulted in an influx of requests for membership, primarily from the United States. The same year the name of the organization was simplified to The Flat Earth Society to reflect its growing international appeal. Generally planoterrestrialists were drawn from among the well-educated -- computer scientists, university administrators, academics, lawyers, physicians, scientists, poets, and writers. They included such well-known figures as writer Farley Mowatt, television personality Paul Soles, American novelist Lawrence Block, and poet Elizabeth Brewster.

Associate membership was granted to persons "of integrity" who subscribed to the society's aims and submitted an essay giving their reasons for believing the earth was flat. After three years, associate members-in-good-standing were granted full membership status. In 1974, the society could boast approximately 100 members in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Planoterrestrialists waged an intellectual, often humorous, "battle" against the "globularist heresy" for over a decade before fading from view in the mid-1980s.

Custodial history

The bulk of the material in this fonds and MG H168 Leo C. Ferrari fonds were deposited with Archives and Special Collections Department on 15 March 1995. Several artifacts and a VHS video were deposited by him in May 1995. Material was taken from the Leo C. Ferrari fonds and a new fonds was created. Leo Ferrari was as member of the society.

Scope and content

"This fonds documents the activities of The Flat Earth Society of Canada (later The Flat Earth Society) from its birth in November 1970 until its demise in the mid-1980s. More specifically, it highlights Leo Ferrari's role as the society's spokesperson and long-serving president.

The fonds includes correspondence, notes, membership records, financial records, newspaper clippings, photographs, cartoons, audio cassette recording of Ferrari speaking about the FES, and VHS videotape of "In Search of the Edge." In addition, it contains copies of newsletters ("The Official Chronical" and "The Official Organ"), tractates, and drafts of speeches as well as draft and published copies of articles about the society and its members.

The fonds also includes an unpublished manuscript "The Earth is Flat! An Exposé on the Globularist Hoax" and a published copy of Ferrari's more scholarly article "Feminism and Education in a Flat Earth Perspective" (McGill Journal of Education). Artifacts include a smashed globe, maps of the world in various shapes, framed membership certificates, and a wooden gnome holding the sign "Repent! the Edge is Nigh."

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Arrangement

A few files were created by the archivist.

For the most part, the original order and title of files have been retained. The archivist has annotated a number of file titles; these annotations appear in square brackets in the listing of file titles.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

No restrictions

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

A listing of file titles is available.

Associated materials

See also: MG H168a Leo C. Ferrari fonds
MG L28 Raymond Fraser fonds

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