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Christopher Chant
Jane Male
Christopher Hull Chant
Elizabeth Croft

Clarence Augustus Chant


Family Links

Jean Laidlaw

Clarence Augustus Chant

  • Born: 31 May 1865, Hagerman, Markham Township, Ontario
  • Marriage: Jean Laidlaw in 1894
  • Died: 18 Nov 1956, Observatory House, University Of Toronto, ON at age 91

bullet  General Notes:

In the World Wide Web site for the University of Toronto Astronomy is found
the following information:

"Both the Department and the Observatory owe their exsistence largely to the
work of one man, C.A. Chant (1865-1956). Dr. Chant, born within a few miles
of Richmond Hill, was a graduate of the Mathematics and Physics Honours
(M&P) program of the University of Toronto, and after short spells as a
school teacher and civil servant, became an instructor in the Physics

Around the turn of the century, Chant introduced the first few astronomy
courses as an option in the M&P program. These received further impetus
after he had done graduate work at Harvard (where he took his Ph.D.) and
in Germany. In 1924, a second astronomer, Dr. R.K. Young, who had his
degree from Lick, and had held staff appoinments at Michigan and the
Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, was appointed to the faculty. In the
early 1930's Peter Millman joined the Department.

Beginning about the time of the first World War, Chant became absorbed
with the idea that the University should have a major Observatory. For
years he worked tirelessly to invoke enthusiasm for this scheme among
University officials, city fathers and private donors. In the 1920's he
met David Dunlap, a lawyer who had become rich from mining investments
in Northern Ontario, and who had an amateur's interest in astronomy.
Unfortunately, Dunlap soon died, but his widow, Jessie Dunlap, was
approached by Chant with the suggestion that her husband's name be
commemorated by the gift to the University of a large observatory.

Mrs. Dunlap accepted the suggestion with enthusiasm, and after much
planning by herself, Chant, and Young, the David Dunlap Observatory was
officially opened on May 31, 1935. Chant, then 70, retired the same day
and lived out the rest of his life at Observatory House on the grounds.
Young became the Director of the new observatory, which then housed the
world's second-largest telescope.

The following is taken from Wikipedia:

He was born in Hagerman's Corner, Ontario to Christopher Chant and Elizabeth Croft. In 1882 he attended Markham High School, where he demonstrated a mathematical ability. After graduation he attended St. Catherines Collegiate Institute and York County Model School in Toronto. He left to work as an instructor in 1884, and taught at Maxwell, Osprey Township for the following three years.

By 1887 he began studying mathematics and physics at the University College of the University of Toronto. Upon graduation he became a civil servant in Ottawa, working as a temporary clerk in the office of the Auditor General. Due to the limited prospects his stay at this job was brief, however, and in 1891 he was offered a fellowship at University of Toronto, where he gained an appointment as a lecturer of physics the following year.

While working at the university he became interested in astronomy, and in 1892 he joined what would become the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He served as president of the organization from 1904 until 1907, and also performed editing duties for the society's journal until 1956. He also contributed articles to the journal and the annual Observer's Handbook.

In 1894 he married Jean Laiwlaw, and the couple would have two daughters. He earned his Master's degree in 1900, and was granted a leave of absence to study for a Doctorate at Harvard University. He returned to Toronto with his Ph.D. in 1901 as a professor. In 1905 he introduced optical astronomy courses at the University of Toronto, and was the sole astronomer at the university until 1924. He lobbied the city of Toronto for an observatory, but the project was shelved with the advent of World War I.

During his career he joined five expeditions to observe solar eclipses, including the 1922 expedition that tested Einstein's theory that light could be deflected by a massive body. He performed early investigations into X-ray photography. In 1928 he published the book, Our Wonderful Universe.

Finally in 1935, after many years of labor and the financial backing of David Dunlap's family, his dreams of a world-class observatory for Canada were achieved with the opening of the David Dunlap Observatory. He retired from the university when the observatory opened, and moved into the Observatory House, Richmond Hill. He passed away while still residing at the Observatory House.

Awards and honors

* He is considered by some to be the "Father of Canadian astronomy".
* Asteroid 3315 Chant was named after him.
* Chant crater on the Moon was named after him.


bullet  Noted events in his life were:



Clarence married Jean Laidlaw, daughter of George Laidlaw and Jane Lindsay, in 1894. (Jean Laidlaw was born on 7 Sep 1869 in Ontario,1 died on 6 Oct 1943 in York, Ontario 1 and was buried on 9 Oct 1943 in Toronto, Ontario.)



1 Ancestry, Death Certificate.

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