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Omond McKillop Solandt fonds
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Education

Omond Solandt attended Mulvey School in Winnipeg from 1915 to November 1920, when his family moved to Toronto. He then attended Rosedale Junior Public School, transferring to Central Technical School in 1922. For his last year of high school he attended Jarvis Collegiate.

He enrolled at the University of Toronto in 1927, as an undergraduate at Victoria College. He graduated with a BA in 1931 with first class honours in biological and medical sciences. Omond

Omond McKillop Solandt fonds

  • UTA 1791
  • Fonds
  • 1915-1994

When Dr. Solandt started donating his personal records to the University of Toronto Archives in 1988, beginning with his certificates and diplomas, the richness, diversity, and volume of the material still to come was only hinted at. Over the next five years further donations were made, punctuated by telephone conversations about the need for still more boxes and folders and archival methods of arrangement and description. Dr. Solandt was very interested in our professional approach to managing his records and was determined (as always, I was to discover) to do things in the proper manner. Twenty years after his death his widow, Vaire, donated the last of his personal records; they had been partially arranged by Dr. Solandt and stored above the garage at the Wolfe Den.

Dr. Solandt’s running commentary on his past life, as the boxes piled up for transfer to the Archives, proved of considerable assistance. I faced a huge volume of records documenting wide-ranging, complex, and often inter-related events, which he had divided into categories roughly equivalent to his numerous activities. These were to form the basis of most of the forty-six series in this inventory. In addition, beginning several years before, he had undertaken to do what few individuals have ever had the time or the inclination to attempt – an overview of each principal activity. There are more than twenty of these, totalling several hundred pages. Each demonstrates the clarity of thought and an understanding of the essentials of any problem facing him that characterized his work and enabled him often to juggle several divergent projects at once. They proved invaluable as I sought to make sense of the mountain of material in front of me, and should be equally useful to researchers.

The records, dating from 1915 to 1994, encompass most of the media one might expect to find in an archives, the bulk being textual records, graphic material (primarily photographs and slides), maps and plans, and publications. The material pertaining to his personal life consists primarily of biographical files (including press coverage), correspondence and diaries, files on his travels and, especially, on his canoe trips as part of the “Voyageurs” group.

Most of the records, not surprisingly, document his extraordinarily active and productive professional life, from the beginning of World War II to the end of the 1980s. The earlier portions of his career, especially his years with the Defence Research Board, Canadian National Railways, de Havilland, and the Electric Reduction Company are not well represented here as the records are largely found elsewhere. The volume of records begin to pick up in the mid-1960s and the greatest strength is to be found in those generated from the early 1970s on, when Dr. Solandt’s activities became complex indeed, with directorships in many companies, many consultancies, trusteeships and advisory committees. Three activities which seemed to please him most were ...the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories [1976-1982]..consultancies for international agricultural and medical research [1975-1988]...and Senior Consultant to the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto, enabling him to retain a close association with the University.

This finding aid for this fonds is arranged by series, with the accessions clearly designated. In the series that are grouped by activity, the arrangement, once career changes are identified, is largely chronological. The principal concentration of activity in any project is the determining factor in the order. Organizations that predominate in one series may be represented in another, particularly those dealing with international agricultural and medical research, such as the umbrella Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. Most accessions have more than one series.

Dr. Solandt’s abiding interest in scientific research and development is a recurring theme throughout and was instrumental, for instance, to his agreeing to chair the newly established Science Council of Canada (1966) and in joining the IMASCO/CDC Research Foundation (1978). Similarly, it was his acknowledged excellence as a manager that, in later years, brought him into contact with the international research agencies that needed professional advice on internal structural problems. On another level, the canoe trips he began at the age of 41 nurtured an interest in wilderness conservation and, subsequently, involvement with the Quetico Foundation and the Wilderness Research Foundation. One factor linking all these activities was Dr. Solandt’s inter-disciplinary approach to ideas and problem solving; it is a recurring theme in his correspondence and in his introductions to the series.

Solandt, O. M.

Biographical and personal files

This series is divided into two sections. The first contains biographical sketches and curriculum vitae, press clippings and articles about Dr. Solandt, along with photocopies of his birth certificate and copies of his will and that of his first wife, Elizabeth. There is correspondence with Elizabeth regarding their marriage, with relatives and friends, and relating to appointments. Also present is a cash book detailing personal expenses between 1923 and 1946, a diary of Dr. Solandt’s first trip to Europe in 1929.

The first portion of this series concludes with the programme for the Solandt Symposium on Organizing and Managing the Practical Application of Science to Problems in Peace and War (Queen’s University at Kingston, 1994), programs for dinners of the Royal Canadian Engineers 3rd Field Engineer Regiment and the Royal Canadian Signals 11th Signal Regiment, a presentation copy of Donald Y. Solandt’s Highways to Health, and a resolution by Donald M. Solandt (Omond and Donald’s father) to the Presbyterian Synod of Manitoba in 1915.

The second section of this series consists of diaries and daybooks (largely the latter), beginning with an account of Dr. Solandt’s trip to Europe in the summer of 1929 while he was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto. Dr. Solandt kept only the occasional diary, of which three are represented in this series. The first is for May, 1945 as the war ended in Europe. The last two both cover his trip to Japan in October-December, 1945 to study the effects of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These diaries are followed by "CDRB's U.K. Visit" (undated); an account book of Solandt's visit to the United Kingdom in November, 1966, and his American address book.

The remainder of the volumes in this series are daybooks and “pocket diaries”, of which Dr. Solandt created a large number. In the former, usually with the manufacturer’s label of as “diary” or “date book”, he recorded his appointments and, occasionally, his expenses and other related notations. These date from 1941, when he first went to Lulworth, to 1988. The volumes for 1945, 1947,1948, 1957, 1958, 1979, and 1986 are absent, either because they were never kept or, perhaps, were not written up in the same manner. For 1945, for instance, there are entries for January, June, and July in two different volumes, but none for the whole year. For two years (1956; 1971, where the second volume has "Mayo Muir" below Dr. Solandt's name and the entries are not in his hand) there are two volumes.

The "pocket diaries" complement the appointment books. The earliest year represented is 1945, the latest, 1988. There are no volumes for 1948-1951, 1953, 1957, and 1959-1965. For 1958, there are also two volumes containing notes on Dr. Solandt's European trip in March and appointments for another in July, and "at a glance" volumes both for 1958 and 1959.

For accounts of travel experiences, either for pleasure or work, see Series 11: Canoe trips and Series 13: Travel.

Defence Research Board

In 1946 Dr. Solandt was called back to Ottawa where he was appointed as Director-General of Defence Research. The following year he was invited to become the founding chair of the Defence Research Board of Canada which was responsible for co-ordinating and directing defence science and research and development for the three armed services.

While most of the records generated by the Defence Research Board are in Ottawa, the correspondence, addresses, press clippings, articles, pamphlets, reports and photoprints (see Series 44) in this series provide a succinct overview of Solandt

International Centre for Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA)

In July of 1975 Dr. Solandt was hired as a consultant to help in the establishment of ICARDA in the Middle East. He was elected as Vice-Chairman of the Board in January, 1976 and remained a member of it until 1981. During this time he carried out numerous duties. As Senior Consultant he was the chief executive officer for ongoing activity. A prominent part of his duties was to recommend to the ICARDA subcommittee specific sites for ICARDA research stations in Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Visits were made and reports written though, in the case of Iran, they were not acted upon. In 1977 he advised the selection committee on the choice of a new Director-General for ICARDA.

This series includes correspondence, background files, memoranda, minutes, reports, site selection reports, maps, press coverage, pamphlets, publications, and a plaque that document in detail Dr. Solandt

Canoe trips

Dr. Solandt was introduced to canoes at an early age but did not take up the sport seriously until he was 41. The group that assembled for the first canoe trip into Quetico Park in 1952 formed the core of what subsequently became the