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Dr. William Austin Squires (1905-1978) was born and educated in Fredericton, New Brunswick. He was the son of Nathan Chesley Squires and Susan Katherine Dayton. He followed in his mother's footsteps as she researched and wrote on many local history and natural history topics. In 1933 he married Helen Georgina Bird, daughter of Charles Edwin and Catherine (Yeomans) Bird of Barkers Point, New Brunswick. He attended schools in Fredericton and entered the University of New Brunswick in 1923. In 1926, he was awarded the Noel Stone Memorial Scholarship for the highest standing in natural science and chemistry. During the academic years 1925-1927 he served as a student assistant in the Natural Science Department under Dr. Philip Cox. He graduated in 1927 with a B.A. degree with honours in Natural Science and Chemistry. After graduation he served one year as a graduate assistant in the same department, teaching freshman botany and sophomore zoology. Squires attended the graduate school of Ohio State University at Columbus, Ohio and held a teaching fellowship from 1928-1930. He received a master of science degree in 1929 and began study for a doctorate which was interrupted by the Great Depression. In 1930, he returned to the University of New Brunswick as an instructor in natural science, teaching botany and zoology at the first session of the University of New Brunswick summer school.
He was also employed during the summer of 1928-1929 with the Entomological Branch of the federal Department of Agriculture on field crop pests research. From 1930-1939, he taught in the public schools of New Brunswick and became vice-principal of the Minto-Newcastle Consolidated School. From 1939 to 1969 he was the curator of the natural science department at the New Brunswick Museum; from 1941-1969 he was Secretary of the Board and Executive Committee of the New Brunswick Museum; from 1968-1969 he was chief curator and president of the New Brunswick Museum.
In 1939 he was appointed curator of the Natural Science Department at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John, an appointment he held until his retirement in 1969. He was a member of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association executive, and he sat on the Canadian Museums Association council. He also was a member of several other Canadian organizations relating to natural science and historic preservation. In his spare time, Austin Squires was a noted amateur historian and naturalist. In 1963, he received an American Special History award for "The History of Fredericton - The Last 200 Years". In 1964, Squires received an honourary doctorate of laws (LL.D) from U.N.B. Among his other publications were The Bird Family of Central New Brunswick, The history and Development of the New Brunswick Museum, The Reversing Falls Portage, The 104th Regiment of Foot, The Mammals of New Brunswick, The Birds of New Brunswick, Wilmot United Church, and A Naturalist in New Brunswick. In 1964 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from UNB and in 1967 he received the Centennial Medal.
He served in the militia in the St. John Fusiliers from 1942 to 1946, attaining the rank of captain. He belonged to the New Brunswick Historical Society and York-Sunbury Historical Society. He wrote numerous books and articles on natural science and historical topics. He was made freeman of the City of Fredericton in 1978 in honour of his work, especially on the history of Fredericton.
Scope and content
- Two copies of "Signposts of History" by Squires, read before the Fortnightly Club in 1958;
- a typescript of "Historic Sites of New Brunswick" by Squires under the auspices of the New Brunswick Historic Sites Advisory Board;
- a typescript of "The Indians of Acadia" by Squires (published by the museum in 1972); and
- a typescript of "A Naturalist in New Brunswick" by Squires, 1968.
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