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Robert William McKay fonds Series
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Education

Series documents McKay’s time as a university student. The physics and chemistry workbook
belongs to his undergraduate years as do the correspondence and clippings regarding his scholarships. Max Planck’s Treatise on Thermodynamics was gifted to McKay when the British Association for the Advancement of Science awarded him a bronze medal. Although the academic hood does not have a date, McKay most likely received it upon earning his Doctorate in 1934.

National Research Council

Series contains is composed of records dating from McKay’s time at the National Research Council. During the Second World War, the organization was mobilized to support the Allied war effort. As a result, most of the series’ records relate to military research and development. Canadian Army Operational Research Group (C.A.O.R.G.) reports compose approximately half the files that make up the series. These reports cover subjects ranging from blast measurements for anti-tank mine clearance to the number and distribution of Japanese paper balloons in North America. There are also two summary reports on Japanese balloon incidents.
The remainder of the textual and graphic records are made up of committee minutes, general Department of Defence documents, and a short paper on Canada’s part in the development of the radio proximity fuse, which McKay contributed to as assistant to project leader Professor Arnold Pitt.

Also included in this series are the remains of a Japanese paper balloon. Paper balloons, also known as balloon bombs, were a by-product of an atmospheric experiment by Axis scientists, which discovered a powerful air current traveling across the Pacific at about 30,000 feet [1]. Taking advantage of this knowledge, the Japanese military developed what may well have been the first intercontinental weapon in the form of explosive devices attached to paper balloons. These balloons were released in Japan and carried along the Pacific by a jet stream, ultimately finding their way to North America’s West Coast. Although the Japanese are thought to have released as many as 9,000 paper balloons, only 1,000 or so are thought to have reached North America, resulting in a total of six casualties [2].

NOTES

  1. Johnna Rizzo, “Japan’s secret WWII weapon: Balloon bombs,” National Geographic, 27 May 2013.
  2. Ibid.