John Collins

(1865-1957) A 67-year member of the Society (Toronto); writer of a Toronto Telegram astronomy column (1900-48); Society Secretary (1902-17) and President (1920-21).

JOHN ROBINETTE COLLINS (1865-1957) was a devotee of astronomy for most of his long life. He observed the transit of Venus in 1882, and recalled his experience 71 years later at a meeting of the Toronto Centre when plans were being laid for the observation of a transit of Mercury. He was educated in Toronto and at Chautauqua College in New York State, and remained an avid reader of science throughout his life. John Collins was a charter member of the A&P Society in 1890 and his brother, Zoro, joined in 1893. They both took a special interest in optical design and published a number of papers on this and on other topics in the Transactions and in the Journal. Every Saturday, from 1900 to 1948, J.R. Collins ran a column on Astronomy in the Toronto Telegram. In 1905, he went on the Canadian government eclipse expedition to Labrador and in 1932 was chairman of the RASC Eclipse Committee. He served as Secretary of the Society from 1902 to 1917, and then was elected Vice-President and President. Following these responsibilities he was very active in local Toronto affairs, being the first Chairman of the Board in charge of meetings. Collins was fond of travel and took at least three extended motor trips in the 1930s, visiting western Centres and several U.S. observatories. Besides his dedication to the RASC, he was a President of a Geological Society and a fellow of the AAAS and the American Geographical Society.

In writing his obituary, E.J.A Kennedy recalled him as "a kindly gentleman, always carrying out his duties with great diligence and care. With his keen sense of humour and good memory, he was always ready with a story or an interesting and amusing sidelight on the lives of the great scientists of his day."

Peter Broughton (from Looking Up)


Further Reading


Collins, John R.