First Meteorological Observatory
Submitted by David Phillips
The first Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory was built of wood in 1840 on King’s College grounds (University of Toronto; Figure 1). In the 1840s, the University of Toronto used to hold its shooting matches on grounds near the Observatory. Often, weather employees had to dive for cover from bullets whizzing through windows. One afternoon in July 1842, the match was too close for the liking of Sir Henry Lefroy, the Observatory's director. "Yesterday afternoon five different discharges passed through the windows of the Observatory", he wrote in a stiff note to the University protesting the location of the matches.
In 1853, John Cherriman, assistant professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, became manager of the Observatory and its program, and directed the campaign for rebuilding the Observatory. The new Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory was rebuilt and refurbished along with the Director’s residence in 1854-1855. The old wooden Observatory was torn down and replaced with a stone building on the same site (Figure 2). The Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) founded in 1871 was administered from the Observatory until 1909. On March 26, 1908, staff vacated the Observatory for 18 months and on August 5, 1909 the headquarters staff of the MSC occupied a new building at 315 Bloor Street West in Toronto (Figure 3), which was the headquarters for more than 60 years. In 1971, national headquarters’ staff of the MSC moved into a new headquarters building at 4905 Dufferin Street (Figure 4), Downsview, Ontario in suburban Toronto. By late August that year, most of the staff had been re-united in the new building after 30 years of operating out of many as six different buildings in Toronto. The new building was officially opened on October 29, 1971 by the Minister of the Environment.
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