Prof. Clarence Chant

(BA 1890 UC) (PhD 1908 Harvard) (LLD 1935 U of T) (d. 1956)

Clarence Chant, known as the father of Canadian astronomy, studied mathematics and physics at UC, earning a doctorate in physics at Harvard University. His interest in astronomy began in 1892 when hired by the U of T Department of Physics. Instrumental in the development of the astronomy curriculum, he ultimately became the Department of Astronomy's inaugural chairman in 1918. He was the sole Canadian to train astronomers until 1926 and many students later became directors of astronomical observatories.  Committed to popularizing astronomy to all, he published Our Wonderful Universe in 1928, gave public lectures, wrote for newspapers, and delivered radio talks. He would gladly help any sincere correspondent, from naive beginner to accomplished professional. He served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and founded its namesake journal which he edited from 1904 until his death in 1956. He also led an expedition to Australia in 1922 to observe a total solar eclipse, thus helping to verify Einstein's prediction concerning the deflection of light by massive bodies. With Jessie Donalda Dunlap, the widow of mining entrepreneur David Dunlap, Chant established the Dunlap Observatory at the University of Toronto. It was inaugurated on May 31, 1935, the day Chant turned seventy, received an honorary doctorate, from U of T, and retired.