James Wadsworth

(1842-1905) B.A., M.A., M.B. A school inspector by trade. He built the 12½" reflector (the largest in Canada at the time) that he used to observe the heavens from his observatory on Talbot Street in Simcoe, Ontario.

JAMES JOSEPH WADSWORTH died at Simcoe, Ont., on March 11, 1905, in his 64th year. His birth place was Toronto. From the University of Toronto he obtained the degree of B.A. in 1860, M.A. in 1863, and M.B. in 1869. He was a gold medallist in Arts and a silver medallist in medicine.

For over thirty-three years he was school inspector for the county of Norfolk, and though his duties were arduous, he yet found time for special research in fields unknown to the ordinary busy man. From early life he was deeply interested in astronomy, and while at the University, by contact with other kindred minds and by using the means at his disposal, he developed his taste for science.

When engaged in his lifework he was never without a telescope, large or small, and he finally constructed one for himself. It is a reflecting telescope with a mirror 12½ inches in diameter, and at the time it was made it was the largest reflector in Canada. Its definition is admirable, and when we learn that Dr. Wadsworth not only ground and polished the mirror, but also constructed the machine necessary to accomplish the delicate work, we must conclude that his gifts were many.

Dr. Wadsworth was for many years a member of the British Astronomical Association and of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and to the latter he communicated many interesting observations and notes. He also had a personal correspondence with many prominent astronomers in Great Britain. But perhaps his greatest service to astronomy consisted in the seeds of interest in the subject which he planted as he went about his daily work, —seeds which, warmed by his kindly nature and jovial disposition, will assuredly in the future bear valuable fruit.

—RASC 1905 Transactions

The summer meetings were generally held at the Ob­servatory of the President, Dr. Wadsworth, whose 12-inch reflector, driven by home-made clock-work, enabled parties of a dozen or more to view the heavens at leisure. Other telescopes and opera glasses were used on the lawn.
—Simcoe Astronomical Society report for 1901, Transactions 1901, p.146

Elected to Associate Membership at the meeting of August 8th, 1893.

Further Reading


Wadsworth, James J.