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- Jack, William Brydone
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William Brydone Jack, son of Peter and Janet (Bryden) Jack, was born 23 November 1817 at Trailflatt, parish of Tinwald, Scotland. His first marriage on 19 December 1844 to Marian Ellen Peters, daughter of Attorney General of New Brunswick Charles J. Peters, produced four daughters and one son. In 1859 he married Caroline Disbrowe (Disbrow), and they had one daughter and four sons.
William Brydone graduated from the University of St. Andrews in 1840 with a M.A., majoring in mathematics and the natural sciences. On the recommendation of Sir David Brewster, the principal of United College at St. Andrews, in 1840 Jack accepted the post of professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at King's College in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Hailed as a leading Canadian astronomer, in 1851 he helped establish an astronomical observatory on the campus of King's College, being the first such observatory in British North America. It housed an achromatic telescope, purchased with Ð300 provided by the provincial government. In 1855, in collaboration with Fredericton physician Dr. J. B. Toldervy, he determined the exact longitude of Fredericton with reference to Boston. Later Jack and Toldervy determined the longitudes of other locations in the province with reference to Fredericton, submitting their findings to Astronomer Royal George Biddell Airy, who subsequently disagreed with them.
He was keenly interested in surveying, and in the 1870s, helped the surveyor general of New Brunswick improve surveying standards. With Dr. James Robb, first professor of chemistry and natural history at King's, Jack also worked to improve the teaching of science at King's College.
He encouraged the introduction of a course in civil engineering and in 1861, following the conversion of King's to a secular college. He was named second president of the University of New Brunswick (1861-1885). In conjunction with Lieutenant Governor Sir Edmund Head, he worked to introduce more practical training in the sciences and arts into the college curriculum. As well, between 1872 and 1885 he served on the provincial Board of Education. William Brydone Jack died at Fredericton on 23 November 1886.
Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia, 1988.
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