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1847-1885, [196?] (Creation)
- Jack, William Brydone
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William Brydone Jack (1819-1886) was born in the parish of Tinweld, Scotland. After graduating from the University of St. Andrews in 1840, he was offered two posts, chair of Physics at Manchester New College and professor of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at King's College, Fredericton (later the University of New Brunswick). Because his friends thought him too young for the position at Manchester, he accepted the post in Fredericton and remained there for 45 years.
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 £300 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.
The Canadian Encyclopedia, 1988
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