Malcolm Thomson


Malcolm Thomson in 1968 MALCOLM M. THOMSON (1908—2002), as the son of a minister, moved quite a lot. He was born in Nelson, and grew up in Edmonton and Winnipeg. After earning his B.A. at the University of Manitoba in 1929, he joined the staff of the DO in Ottawa as a member of the Time Service. There he made his career except for war-time service and a leave of absence to get his M.Sc. degree at Yale University in 1954. Thomson was promoted to head of the Positional Astronomy Division in 1957, chief of the Astronomy Division in 1963, and head of the Time and Frequency Section of the Physics Division at NRC after astronomical work ended at the DO in 1970. Among his responsibilities was the installation of the Photographic Zenith Telescope at Pridis, Alberta, inaugurated at the time of the 1968 General Assembly. His book, The Beginning of the Long Dash, published in 1978, gives the whole story of timekeeping in Canada, including many developments in which he participated.

Malcolm Thomson joined the Ottawa Centre shortly after taking up his duties at the DO and held office in the Centre continuously from 1934 to 1948 as Secretary, Vice-President and President. From 1963-72, he moved through the sequence of national presidential offices. During his active years in the Ottawa Centre, Thomson was very helpful in directing teams of meteor observers and in working with groups of young people. He chaired the organizing committee for the 1973 General Assembly. During his national service, he worked tactfully but decisively to smooth out internal problems in the Quebec Centre, and put in a great deal of work preparing a new RASC Constitution prior to incorporation under Federal charter. Malcolm Thomson's substantial contribution to the Society was recognized with a Centennial Medal in 1967 and by the presentation to the RASC national office of an historic railway station pendulum clock in his honour.

Peter Broughton (from Looking Up)

Further Reading

Malcolm Thomson was RASC National President (1966-1968) during Canada's Centenary, Chief of the Positional Astronomy and Time Service (1957-1966), and Chief of the Astronomy Division (1966-1970) at the Dominion Observatory. When the DO closed, he became head of the NRC's Time and Frequency Section of the Physics Division (for more information, see —RAR


Thomson, Malcolm M.