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Interviews

This series begins with two interviews that were not recorded by Mr. Grenville but were collected by him as a part of his research. The first, “Ten minutes with O. M. Solandt", was a CBC television production recorded on 13 December 1961 when he was vice-president of research and development for Canadian National Railways, and broadcast on 3 April 1962. The second, with interviewer Robert F. Legg, is undated but was recorded when Dr. Solandt was chancellor of the University of Toronto (1965-1971), is described as “his personal reactions…to the situation he finds himself involved both as a Director of a commercial corporation [Electric Reduction Company of Canada]..., also as Chancellor of the University of Toronto and also as Chairman of the National Science Council [sic, Science Council of Canada]…”

A central part of Mr. Grenville’s research on Dr. Solandt was the series of interviews (66 cassette tapes) that he conducted in 1985, 1986 and 1990, including nine with Dr. Solandt. The others were with people who had known him well and/or worked with him at various stages in his long professional life. Accompanying these interviews are two notebooks which contain dated entries on his research activities. There are notes on contacts and sources, brief biographical notes about the interviewees along with detailed notes on Mr. Grenville’s interviews with Dr. Solandt and shorter notes on other interviews. There are also tape summaries prepared by Jason Ridler for each of the interviews. The latter were compiled as a condition of Mr. Grenville’s loaning his material to Mr. Ridler for use in his doctoral thesis on Dr. Solandt. The summaries vary in the amount of detail but provide a very useful guide to the interviews. A cautionary note to researchers is that they contain numerous typos, mostly as a result of Mr. Ridler having a limited amount of time to make the summaries and not having a list of names to compare spellings against, many of whom he was unfamiliar with.

Of all the interviewees, Laurie Chute probably knew Dr. Solandt best, certainly the longest. He was a boyhood friend, fellow student (along with his wife, Helen Reid) and, during World War II, was with the Physiological Research Laboratory at Lulworth in Dorset, England, and, from 1943, commanded the No. 1 Canadian Medical Research Laboratory where he specialized in the medical hazards of tank warfare. He was dean of medicine at the University of Toronto (1966-1973) during much of the time Dr. Solandt was chancellor. Another fellow medical student was Reginald Haist who became a professor of physiology at the U of T. All three had interesting observations on Dr. Solandt’s formative years, including his relationship with Charlie Best. Barbara Griffin, the widow of his brother Donald, provided detailed information about the Solandt family generally and the relationship between the brothers in particular.

Charles Crawley; Anne Ellis Lewis whose husband ‘Tel’ had worked with Dr. Solandt, Wilhelm Feldberg, and Lancelot Fleming, were all Trinity Hall, Cambridge friends and interviewed for their recollections of him while at Trinity and in England generally. Maggie and Patrick Mollison reminisced about their work with him at the South West Blood Supply Depot at Sutton, Surrey. Donald Kaye, George Lindsey, Tony Sargeaunt, Ronnie Shephard, and Ted Treadwell all provided information on their work when Dr. Solandt was director of the Medical Research Council’s Physiological Laboratory at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School at Lulworth (1941-1942) and subsequently with the Army Operational Research Group there and elsewhere (1942-1945).

Dr. Solandt’s years at the Defence Research Board (1947-1956) were thoroughly reviewed in the interviews with Alec Fordyce, Geoffrey Hatterley-Smith, George Lindsey, Archie Pennie, and Elliot Rodger, and Graham Rowley. His years with the Canadian National Railways (1956-1963) were covered by Herb Bailey, at deHavilland (1963-1966) by Philip Lapp, at the Electric Reduction Company of Canada (1963-1970) by Lloyd Lillico, and science policy generally and Dr. Solandt’s years as founding chair of the Science Council of Canada (1966-1972) by James Mullin. In November 1967 Dr. Solandt accompanied the National Science Foundation (USA) expedition to Antarctica and the South Pole. Raymond Aidie, a geologist from South Africa and an expert on Antarctica, was interviewed about this trip. One of Dr. Solandt’s passions was the Canadian wilderness. Dennis Coolican, president of the Canadian Bank Note Company, and Elliot Rodger were two of the ‘voyageurs’ who made numerous canoe trips with him; both were on the famous 1955 Churchill River trip.

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