James Buckland Mawdsley (1894-1964)


  • A.R. Byers




Koch, Lauge, 1892-1964


James Buckland Mawdsley, M.B.E., Ph.D., F.R.S.C., a Charter Associate of the Arctic Institute of North America, died very suddenly on 3 December 1964 at the age of 70. As Director of the Institute for Northern Studies, University of Saskatchewan, he played a major role in its organization and development and exerted a very great influence on research in northern Canada. He was born on 22 July 1894 near Siena, Italy, the son of British-American parents. In 1904 the Mawdsley family left Italy and settled in the village of Gainsborough, southeastern Saskatchewan. After receiving his public and high school training in Saskatchewan he entered McGill University in 1913. His career, like that of many of his contemporaries, was interrupted by the First World War. Twice wounded in France, first with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry and then as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps, he was awarded the M.B.E. at the end of the war. In 1919 he returned to McGill and two years later graduated in Mining Engineering. He then went to Princeton University where he obtained his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geology in 1924. That same year he joined the Geological Survey of Canada and for the next five years applied his scientific knowledge to the problems of the regional geology of northwestern Quebec. A new chapter in his life began in 1929 when he accepted the appointment of professor and head of the Department of Geology at the University of Saskatchewan, a position he held until he became Dean of Engineering in 1961 and also the Director of the Institute for Northern Studies. In 1963 he retired as Dean and was then able to devote all his time to the affairs of the Institute. In addition to his academic duties his professional activities included field work in northern Saskatchewan for the Geological Survey of Canada and the Saskatchewan Department of Mineral Resources, and private consulting assignments took him to other parts of northern Canada, to the United States and Great Britain. He was the author of 51 scientific papers and his honours were many. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1933 and was chairman of Section IV for the year 1954-55. He was president of the Geological Association of Canada during 1955-56 and of the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy for 1961-62. In 1953 he was awarded the Institute's Barlow Memorial Medal in recognition of his paper entitled "Uraninite-bearing deposits, Charlebois Lake area, northeastern Saskatchewan". He was a Fellow and Director of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, a member of the Society of Economic Geologists, the Engineering Institute of Canada, and the Association of Professional Engineers of Saskatchewan. He had an eventful life, travelled widely, met and was a friend to many people. Such qualities as tact, kindliness, sincerity and respect for the thoughts of others enabled him to present his views without arousing undue antagonism, and to cooperate with others in reaching decisions. Recognized as an able administrator, scientist, and teacher, perhaps his greatest service will prove to be the influence he had on those who worked or studied under him. In them he not only instilled a feeling of scientific curiosity but also a keen interest and love of the North.