Chant, Clarence Augustus

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Chant, Clarence Augustus

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1865-1956

History

Clarence Augustus Chant was born May 31, 1865 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. Following graduation he worked for a few years as a temporary clerk, but returned to the University when he was offered a fellowship in 1891 and a year later was appointed lecturer in physics. 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.

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.

In 1935, after many years of labor and the financial backing of the family of mining executive David Alexander Dunlap, 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 is frequently referred to as the "Father of Canadian astronomy. Among the honours bestowed on him were the naming of an Asteroid after him and the Chant crater on the moon. In 1894 he married Jean Laiwlaw, and the couple had two daughters. He died while still residing at the Observatory House on November 18, 1956.

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