Fonds 1257 - James Bruce Falls fonds

Identity area

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UTA 1257


James Bruce Falls fonds


  • [193-]-2004 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

5.82 m of textual and graphic records (30 boxes)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

James Bruce Falls was born in Toronto on 18 December 1923, the son of a civil engineer Orville M. Falls (BASc 1914) and Hazel Ranney. He attended Vaughan Road Collegiate Institute and in the autumn of 1942 entered the “science” program at Victoria College in the University of Toronto. In his second year he began studying biology but withdrew in October to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. He returned to his studies in 1945. His extra-curricular activities included being on the Biology Club executive from his second year and president in his fourth year, and a member of the Hart House Glee Club. He received an honours BA in biology in 1948, having been awarded the Edward Blake Scholarships in biology and mathematics, and graduating in first class with a British Association for the Advancement of Science medal (U of T).

That fall he registered as a doctoral student in zoology at the University where he studied under Kenneth Fisher. During his last year, 1952-1953, he lectured in the Department and received his doctorate at the spring convocation. The title of his thesis was ‘Activity and local distribution of deer mice in relation to certain environmental factors.’ Later in 1953, as a National Research Council of Canada overseas fellow, he left for Oxford University where he did post-doctoral research in its Bureau of Animal Population.

In 1954 Falls returned to the University of Toronto as a lecturer in the Department of Zoology, was promoted to assistant professor in 1957, associate professor in 1961, and professor in 1966. He held that position until 1989 when he retired as professor emeritus.

He served as undergraduate secretary in the Department from 1969 to 1975, as Associate Chairman (Undergraduate Affairs) from 1975 to 1980, and on numerous departmental committees, several of which he chaired. He was a member of the council of the Faculty of Arts and Science (beginning in1957) and active as a member or chair of a number of its committees. He also sat on the Innis College Council from 1963-1970 and on its academic affairs committee. He represented the Department of Zoology on the Users’ Committee of the Wildlife Research Station in Algonquin Park. As professor emeritus he was reappointed to the graduate faculty of the Department of Zoology until 1994.

During his academic career, Professor Falls spent some time at other universities. On sabbatical during the first half of 1964, he was Visiting Scientist at the Division of Wildlife Research, Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization, in Canberra, Australia. In 1973, again on sabbatical leave, he was Visiting Scientist, Institute of Animal Resource Ecology at the University of British Columbia. In 1980 he was Visiting Scientist at the Field Research Centre at Rockefeller University in New York City. The next year and again in 1988 he was Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College and Visiting Scientist at Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology, at Oxford University.

At the University of Toronto Professor Falls taught undergraduate courses in behaviour, evolution, zoogeography, ecology and field biology. The principal ones were Zoology 223 (ecology) which was succeeded in 1974 by Zoology 323 (animal ecology); Zoology 327 (general ecology), 328 (animal geography), 472 (behavioural ecology) and 484Y (ecological seminar). He also taught Biology 110Y (nature of living organisms) and Biology 300 and 490 (both field biology), where he was in charge of instruction and arrangements for zoology. By the time he retired, Professor Falls had supervised the research of 20 masters students and 16 doctoral students, and four post-doctoral investigators had been associated with him.

Professor Falls’ research focused on behavioural mechanisms contributing to population regulation and the dispersion and use of resources by wild species. Continuing themes are acoustic communication and territoriality and research has been approached from causal (experimental) and evolutionary perspectives. By the time of his retirement in 1989 he had, with his students, investigated 13 topics in ornithology, seven in mammalogy and one in herpetology. This research had resulted in 58 refereed publications in scientific journals, seven general articles and chapters in books and the co-editorship of one book. Between 1975 and his retirement he presented 44 papers at scientific meetings and from 1973 had given 23 invited lectures at universities.

In 1989 Professor Falls listed his professional affiliations and activities as: associate editorship of the Canadian Journal of Zoology, 1982-1987, membership in the American Ornithologists’ Union (elective member, 1975, fellow from 1983), American Society of Mammalogists, Animal Behaviour Society, Canadian Society of Zoologists, Cooper Ornithological Society, Deutsche Ornithologen Gesellschaft (corresponding fellow from 1988), Ecological Society of America, International Ornithological Committee (member from 1978, chair of the Scientific Programme Committee of the XIX International Ornithological Congress in Ottawa, 1983-1986), Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University (from 1960), Wilson Ornithological Society (council member, 1962-1964), and
the Canadian Society of Ornithologists (councillor from 1987).

He also listed his conservation activities as: membership in the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (director, 1946-1974; president 1962-1964; and chairman of Nature Reserves Committee, 1965); scientific advisor to the Ontario Waterfowl Research Foundation, 1960-1968; trustee (from 1962) and chairman (1971-1974) of the Nature Conservancy of Canada; member of the Conservation Council of Ontario (from 1962), Canadian committee of the International Biological Programme (conservation sub-committee member and co-chair of the Ontario panel, 1968-1974), member from 1969 at various dates of the advisory committees of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources on nature reserves, Minnesing Swamp and the Backus Tract; honorary director from 1970 and director in 1989 of the Long Point Observatory, director from 1975 of the Owl Rehabilitation Research Foundation, member from 1981 of the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas, member of the management committee (1981-1987) and chair (1983-1987) of the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, and member of the Ontario Rare Breeding Program (chair of management committee, 1989).

Professor Falls married Elizabeth Ann Holmes in 1952. They live in Toronto.

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Personal records of Bruce Falls, documenting his life as a student and his academic career as a zoologist at the University of Toronto. Included is correspondence, files on professional organizations, on Professor Falls administrative work, his lecture and research notes, drafts of manuscripts and publications, addresses, and photographs.

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  • Series 3: /007 (13) – (17) and /008 (01) – (06)) are restricted for 30 years or until the death of the donor, whichever is earlier;
  • Series 5 /012, /013 and /014 (01) to (10) are closed for 75 years from latest date of file activity.
  • All other series are open.

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