Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
June 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Meteorology in Canada


[This article was published in 1948; for the precise citation, see the end of the text.]

Meteorology. The climate and weather of Canada has not always been the same as it is now. Geological science is witness that at various times what is now Canada has been submerged under ice. On the other hand, there is evidence that about the year 1000 A.D. the climate of Canada may have been warmer than it is to-day; and it is possible that it was warmer when Jacques Cartier visited the St. Lawrence valley. By the seventeenth century, however, when the Jesuit Relations and other records give us some basis on which to rely, it is apparent that the climate of Canada was approximately what it is to-day, In the eighteenth century, meteorological observations were made by officers of the Hudson's Bay Company; and in the first half of the nineteenth century various private individuals kept meteorological records in the British North American provinces. It was not, however, until the British government established a magnetical and meteorological observatory at Toronto in 1840 that meteorological observations were begun on a basis that promised continuity and scientific precision. From 1841 to 1853 this observatory was under the direction of Sir Henry Lefroy, who was succeeded in 1855 by Professor G. T. Kingston, to whom we owe the beginning of a meteorological service for Canada . By enlisting the services of voluntary observers, Professor Kingston organized a service which enabled him in 1876 to issue weather forecasts; and in October, 1876, the weather forecasts were for the first time printed in the Toronto evening papers: Since that time the Meteorological Service of Canada has been greatly developed


Approximately 700 observing stations have been established, a number of them in the far north; and the records of these stations are published in the Monthly Record of the Meteorological Service of Canada. This periodical, which began, as a two-page issue in 1877, is now a volume of nearly 100 pages. Thirteen numbers are published per annum, the thirteenth containing the reports of northern stations received too late for the monthly issue. Weather forecasts are now issued twice daily; special warnings of expected gales are telegraphed to agents at more than 100 ports, so that storm signals may be displayed; and special notice is telegraphed to the railways when snowstorms are expected. Forecasts are also broadcasted from wireless stations for the benefit of ships at sea. For an account of the work of the Meteorological Service of Canada, see the paper by Sir Frederick Stupart in the Canada Year Book, 1922-3.

Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. IV, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 400p., p. 278.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College