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Omond McKillop Solandt fonds

  • UTA 1791
  • collection
  • 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.

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

Atomic bomb

In September, 1945 the British Chiefs of Staff were invited by their American counterparts to send a mission to Japan to study the effects of the atomic bomb. Omond Solandt was loaned to the Scientific Advisor to the Army Council in the War Office to go as his representative. He went as a specialist in damage to military installations but, there being none of significance in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, spent most of his time studying the casualties from a medical perspective.

This series includes Dr. Solandt

Addresses

Dr. Solandt delivered many speeches and formal addresses during his career. This series contains notes for and drafts of them and, occasionally, photographs. Some of his addresses were published, especially those delivered at conferences or as memorial lectures; if so, they may appear in the series

Correspondence

Except for one file of correspondence from 1989, covering correspondents filed by surname, I through P and filed in accession B1993-0041, all the correspondence in this series is from accession B1994-0020.

This series has large gaps, particularly for the fifteen years following the Second World War and the 1970s. It begins with Dr. Solandt's wartime letters to his family during the Second World War, where letters from March 1943 to October 1944 are absent, followed by a few letters from 1947, 1954, and 1956. The remainder of the correspondence was arranged by Dr. Solandt in several systems. The first covers the years 1963-1986, the arrangement being alphabetical. A few of the files deal with particular organizations: the Commission on Canadian Studies (1974-1976), the National Radiological Protection Board in the United Kingdom (1976-1981), the Vanier Medal Selection Committee (1975) and York University (1976).

The second system, described as "miscellaneous" correspondence, is filed chronologically between 1955 and 1965. The file for 1955-1962 contains relatively few letters and the file for 1965 is his "personal" correspondence file while employed at Hawkker-Siddeley. These are followed by five files for 1970 (arranged alphabetically, A-S), and one for each year from 1980 to 1992 inclusive. There is a 1989 file on unidentified flying objects (UFOs), about which there are in earlier files some letters from the same correspondents.

University of Cambridge and World War II

Following graduation in medicine from the University of Toronto, Dr. Solandt decided to embark on a career of clinical research in cardiology, using the Ellen Mickle Scholarship. He spent three academic terms in 1936-1937 at the University of Cambridge under the tutilege of Dr. Alan N. Drury, a distinguished researcher in the field of experimental pathology and one of Britain

Operational research

Dr. Solandt was one of the pioneers in operational research, a new sphere of scientific activity which arose from the particular wartime requirements for solutions to complex questions, some highly technical, and most involving the interaction between men and machines. By 1944 Solandt had become head of the British Army

Activities files

These "activity files" (so named by Dr. Solandt) range from the clubs to which he belonged, to professional associations, and to organizations that had scientific and/or social implications in which he was particularly interested, such as the Canadian Nuclear Association. Their scope moves from local to international and several levels in between.

The files contain a corresponding variety of material, ranging from correspondence, manu-scripts, and notes, to memoranda, programs, pamphlets, reports. Their arrangement is alphabetical by name of event, individual or organization. Included are files on the Conference of Experts to Study the Methods of Detecting Violations of a Possible Agreement on the Suspension of Nuclear Weapons Tests (1958), for which Dr. Solandt was a member of the Western delegation.

Associations and committees

An active joiner and participant, Dr. Solandt belonged to many associations and sat on many committees. Those documented here are those he was most interested in and his involvement often lasted many years. The title for this series is Dr. Solandt

Travel files

Omond Solandt traveled frequently and widely in pursuit of his professional and personal interests. On a single trip he might act in several capacities. The principal trips are several visits to northern Canada, to Russia (1964 and 1971), and to New Zealand and Antarctica (1966).

This series contains itineraries, correspondence, notes, programs, addresses, diaries, pamphlets, press coverage, publications, photoprints and maps. The files are usually arranged by destination and year rather than the organization(s) on behalf of which he was undertaking a trip.

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

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

Canadian National Railways

In the latter months of 1955, Omond Solandt began arranging his departure from the Defence Research Board to take up the position of Vice-President, Research and Development of Canadian National Railways, a position he held from 1 March, 1956 to 1 July, 1963.

This series contains correspondence, addresses, press clippings, reports, articles and photoprints (see Series 46) relating largely to the scientific research carried out by the Research and Development Department.

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd.

Upon leaving Canadian National in 1963, Dr. Solandt became Vice-President, Research and Development for and a director of de Havilland and Hawker-Siddeley Canada Ltd., and Chairman of the Board of DCF Systems Ltd. At the time he left de Havilland in 1966 he was Vice-President, Research and Planning.

This series contains correspondence, diaries, memoranda, and reports relating to his activities with these companies and their parent company, the Hawker Siddeley Group of Great Britain.

Electric Reduction Company of Canada Ltd.

From de Havilland, Dr. Solandt moved on to the position of Vice-Chair of the Electric Reduction Company of Canada (later ERCO), a subsidiary of Allbright & Wilson Ltd. of England, which he held from 1965 until 31 December, 1970.

This series contains correspondence, press clippings, articles, minutes, memoranda, reports, and photoprints.

Chancellor, University of Toronto

Twenty-nine years after Omond Solandt left the University of Toronto with a gold medal in medicine, he returned as Chancellor, taking up his three-year appointment on 1 July, 1965. It was renewed for a further three years in 1968.

The contents of this series includes correspondence, addresses, minutes, programs, reports and photoprints relating to his ceremonial duties and other activities associated with the office. Included are files on awarding of honorary degrees, the Presidential Search Committee, chaired by Dr. Solandt, for the successor to Claude Bissell, and the new (1971) University of Toronto Act. Included is an audiotape of the proceedings of his installation as chancellor.

Solandt Commission

The controversy caused by the proposed construction of major power lines through populated southern Ontario resulted in Omond Solandt being appointed in 1972 to head a commission of public inquiry into the transmission of power from Nanticoke to Pickering. The following year the inquiry was extended to include an examination of the proposed route between Lennox and Oshawa. Dr. Solandt held public hearings in the affected municipalities between May, 1974 and January, 1975.

Present are correspondence, press coverage, drafts of papers, and reports relating to the inquiry and to the Ontario Royal Commission on Electric Power.

Institute de la vie

The Institute de la Vie, based in Paris and Geneva, was founded in 1960 by Maurice Marois to safeguard, though science and technology, the

Science Council of Canada

Prime Minister Pearson invited Omond Solandt to become the founding chair of the Science Council of Canada in 1966. He held the position until 1972 and remained actively interested in the affairs of the Council until it was disbanded. This is reflected in the correspondence, a collection of the addresses Dr. Solandt gave, minutes, memoranda, reports and photoprints contained in this series.

Included are files on the Gandhi Centenary Conference on Science, Education, and Non-violence, held in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India in 1969, and, for the post-1972 years, files on the Science Council

Ontario Science Centre

Dr. Solandt was a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Science Centre from 1966 to 1984. His involvement is documented in the correspondence, minutes, reports, and photoprints in this series, and includes a

International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)

ICIPE, based in Nairobi, is one of two important international research centres (the other is WARDA) whose origins lie in the native populations of the area in which they operate. Late in 1976, Omond Solandt was asked to join the Board of ICIPE, which was badly in need of help in management. He formally took his seat in June, 1977 and the reorganization that he engineered addressed problems of efficiency, a lingering colonial mentality, and the appointment of a new chair. A financial crisis forced Solandt to assume the duties as chair in April, 1982, a position he retained for a year. He remained actively associated with ICIPE until 1987 and in 1989 was a one of the founders of its Honorary Alumni Association.

The correspondence, minutes, background papers, reports, programs, publications and photoprints and slides provide a thorough documentation of the complex problems that Dr. Solandt faced at ICIPE, the progress that was made in resolving them, and the impact of many individuals involved in it, especially its founder, Dr. Tom Odhiambo.

University of Toronto. Institute for Environmental Studies

Beginning in 1975, when he left Mitchell Plummer, Dr. Solandt was offered an office at the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto by its director, Ken Hare. Although he had to give up his office at the end of 1977, he remained as a consultant, with special interest in the Arctic Program and in toxicology.

The correspondence, notes, minutes, memoranda and reports in this series provide a good overview of the development of certain policies within the Institute and, in particular, the issues associated with establishing an Environmental Health Secretariat at the University of Toronto.

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

International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (ICDDRB)

Dr. Solandt was a member of the original Board of ICDDRB, which inaugurated the new organization to replace the Cholera Research Centre in 1979, and remained on it until 1982. While there he took considerable interest in the financial management of the Centre, and was also concerned with maintaining its international status.

This series contains detailed correspondence, minutes, memoranda and reports documenting the problems that ICDDRB faced and the limited success that was met by Dr. Solandt and others in addressing them. Dr. Solandt

International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study (IFIAS)

IFIAS was founded in Sweden in 1972 and Solandt, who had been involved in some of the early planning, was appointed to a panel of Special Advisors. Although he was never very active, he gave specific advice when asked. One of his principal contributions was to get the University of Toronto involved in IFIAS through the Institute of Environmental Studies, the first university to receive membership in it. Although his term as Special Advisor ended in 1985, he strongly opposed the move of the headquarters of IFIAS to Canada the following year.

While Dr. Solandt did not keep much of the mass of paper IFIAS produced, the correspondence, minutes, briefs, reports, and publications in this series provide a summary of its activities during his association with it.

Northwest Territories. Science Advisory Board

Dr. Solandt was the founding chair of the Science Advisory Board, serving between 1976 and 1983. Included is correspondence and minutes of meetings of the Science Advisory Board, 1976-1983; drafts of its publications and reports, 1978-1983; correspondence and reports relating to conferences, task forces, and studies commissioned by the Science Advisory Board or in which it was interested.

Centro Internacional de Majorimiente de Maiz y Trigo/International Maize And Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)

Dr. Solandt was appointed to the Board of CIMMYT in 1976 and remained for ten years, until April, 1986. One his last official acts was to participate in the selection of a new Director-General. He also sat on the Board of another of the CGIAR centres, ICARDA, and two that were similar but not part of CGIAR, the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh. His experience in CIMMYT was central to all this involvement. After he retired from the Board, he conducted, in April, 1988, a brief management review of the organization as a prelude to a more extensive review by CGIAR later in the year.

This series contains correspondence, agenda books for Board meetings, notes, notices, memo-randa, drafts of reports and reviews, other reports and publications, programs and photoprints that provide detailed coverage of the functions of the organization and Solandt

Wilderness Research Foundation

During the late 1980s the future of the Quetico-Superior Wilderness Research Center at Mukluk Bay, Minnesota was very much in question. The Wilderness Research Foundation, which sponsored it, was assessing its future at a time when its founder was withdrawing from active participation prior to his death in December, 1988. Dr. Solandt was initially a member of the Advisory Committee to the Board of the Foundation and later a member of the Board. He pressed for the continuation of wilderness research at Mukluk Bay and left the Board in 1991 only when he felt that this would be achieved.

The correspondence, minutes, memoranda and reports written by Dr. Solandt and others, along with articles and institutional reports, clearly document the relationship between the Foundation and the Center, the work done by the latter, the problems it faced, and the policies that were developed in an attempt to save it.

Canada/Newfoundland Royal Commission on the Ocean Ranger Marine Disaster

When the Ocean Ranger oil rig tipped over in the Atlantic on 15 April, 1982, it set in motion an inquiry which involved two royal commissions, one federal and the other provincial (Newfoundland) which, due to a public outcry, were forced to amalgamate. David Grenville, secretary of the Commission, drew on advice from Dr. Solandt for the second volume of the report, which addressed safety on the oil rigs. An important part of this exercise was the convening of a conference in St. John

Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical/International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

The Centro Internactional de Agricultura Tropical was founded by the Rockefeller Institute in 1967 in Cali, Columbia. In 1982 a massive fraud was discovered within the organization, with the result that the World Bank in 1984 retained Omond Solandt to conduct a management review of the Centre.

The files in this series provide a good picture of the conduct of the External Management Review and of its results. Included are the Review Team

West African Rice Development Association (WARDA)

The initial aim of WARDA was to have an entirely native West African organization that would apply the latest in rice technology to the problems peculiar to their area, but political interference meant that WARDA never functioned effectively. By the end of 1986, with CGIAR having resolved to continue its support of the organization, Omond Solandt was asked to coach those involved in it on how to operate within a CG style of centre. In 1987 he made three trips to Africa and, while there and in subsequent meetings, worked to ensure that an effective structure and Board were put in place. His official involvement with WARDA ended about August, 1987.

The correspondence, minutes, background papers, reports, photographs and publications provide detailed information about the problems WARDA faced and the problems Solandt and others encountered in resolving them.

International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

IITA was based in Ibadan, Nigeria and in 1984 Dr. Solandt was invited to be a consultant to it, heading an in-house review panel that reported in 1985.

This series contains correspondence, memoranda, notes, reports and publications that document the Institute

Canadian Forestry Advisory Council

While Dr. Solandt was working on his report for the PPRIC, it became apparent that the amount of forestry research being done in Canada was declining every year. Pierre Gendron proposed that the CFAC should commission a quick survey of the volume of forestry research being done in every agency that could be located in Canada. A Steering Committee was created to execute the study, which was carried out by Dr. Solandt in 1979.

The correspondence, notes, minutes, memoranda, reports, drafts of reports, and replies to questionnaires document the procedures and methodology that Dr. Solandt undertook in preparing his report.

IMASCO/CDC Research Foundation

Late in 1978 Murray Koffler asked Omond Solandt to serve on the Scientific Advisory Committee for the IMASCO/CDC Research Foundation which he had recently established. Solandt stayed until its last farewell luncheon on 25 November, 1985.

The Committee generated a great volume of paper but Dr. Solandt was very selective in what he retained, keeping only significant correspondence, minutes, and some reports. These records provide a bird

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