Fonds 1791 - Omond McKillop Solandt fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1791


Omond McKillop Solandt fonds


  • 1915-1994 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

40.24 m of multimedia records

  • 182 boxes, 6 oversize folders, 2 LP records, 1 audio cassette, 1 video

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

-1909: Omond McKillop Solandt is born in Winnipeg on 2 September
-1920: Family moves to Toronto
-1927: Receives certificate in radiotelegraphy
-1927: Enters University of Toronto, registering at Victoria College
-1928, 1929: Radio operator, Ontario Forestry Branch (summer employment)
-1930: Observer, Ontario Provincial Air Services (summer employment)
-1931, 12 June: BA (Biological and Medical Sciences), First Class Honours, and is awarded G. A. Cox Gold Medal by Victoria College
-1932: MA, U of T. Thesis: “The duration of the recovery period, and the respiratory quotient of the excess metabolism, following strenuous muscular exercise”
-1932-1933: Research in Physiology under Professor Charles H. Best
-1933: BSc in Medicine, U of T
-1935: Attends 14th Congress of the International Physiological Society in Leningrad and Moscow
-1936, 4 June: MD, with honours, winning all the awards offered: Gold Medallist in Medicine, Ellen Mickle Fellowship, Chappell Prize in Clinical Medicine, William John Hendry Memorial Scholarship in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ontario Medical Association Prize in Preventive Medicine, David Dunlap Memorial Scholarship, and the Canadian Medical Institute Prize.
-1936-1937: Begins Master of Arts programme in pathology at University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Alan N. Drury
-1938: Intern, Toronto General Hospital
-1939: On 5 January Dr. Solandt is accepted into the PhD programme at Cambridge
-1939: Member, Royal College of Physicians, London
-1939-1940: Lecturer in mammalian physiology at University of Cambridge, April 1939 – 15 May 1940 [on military leave until April 1945]
-1940-1941: Director, South-West London Blood Supply Depot at Sutton, Surrey, 16 May
-1941-1944: From March 1941 to 18 February 1944 Solandt was the first Director of the Medical Research Council’s Physiological Laboratory at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School, Lulworth, Dorset, and (ex-officio) a member of the AFV Sub-Committee.
-1942: Armoured Fighting Vehicle Section, Army Operational Research Group (AORG), operated jointly by the British Army and the Ministry of Supply
-1943: Commissioned into the Canadian Army (General List) as a Colonel; promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 19 February 1944
-1943: Deputy Superintendent of Army Operational Research Group
-1944-1945: From June 1944, Superintendent of AORG at Ibstock Place, Richmond Park, Surrey
-1945-1946: Fellow, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, April 1945 – January 1946
-1945: September – December: loaned to the Scientific Advisor to the Army Council in the War Office to go as his representative on a mission to study the effects of the atomic bomb on Japan
-1946-1947: Director-General of Defence Research, Ottawa
-1947: Awarded the Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm by the United States government
-1947-1956: Founding Chairman, Defence Research Board of Canada and Member, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Defence Council
-1956-1963: Assistant Vice-President and, in 1957, Vice-President, Research and Development, Canadian National Railways
-1958: Seconded to Department of External Affairs as a member of the Western Delegation to the Conference on Experts to Study the Possibility of Detecting Violations of a Possible Agreement on Suspension of Nuclear Tests
-1963: Elected president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society on 22 February
-1963, May: Joint announcement of his appointment as Vice-President, Research and Develop-ment for Hawker-Siddeley Canada Ltd., and Vice-President, Research and Develop-ment at de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. A month later he was elected a director of Hawker-Siddeley, a director de Havilland and later Vice-President, Research and Planning. He also was appointed Chairman of the Board of DFC Systems Ltd.
-1963-1970: Director, Electrical Reduction Company of Canada (later ERCO Chemicals) and Vice-Chairman, 1966-1970
-1965-1971: Chancellor, University of Toronto
-1966-1972: Founding Chairman, Science Council of Canada
-1966-1967: Member of the Executive Committee of the Ontario Centennial Centre
-1966-1980: Director, Huyck Corporation
-1970-1975: Director, Mitchell Plummer Ltd.
-1970-1971: Member of the Board of Governors, Upper Canada College
-1971-1976: Chairman of Ontario Government Commission of Inquiry to advise on the transmis-sion of power from Nanticoke to Pickering and from Lennox to Oshawa (the Solandt Commission)
-1971-1976: Public Governor, Toronto Stock Exchange, and chair of its CATS [Canadian Automated National Trading System] committee, 1974-1976
-1975: Senior Consultant, Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Toronto
-1975-1981: Member, Board of Advisors, Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering, St. John’s, Newfoundland
-1975-1988: Consultant to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
-1975-1977: Consultant to the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, on the establishment of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Lebanon, Syria and Iran
-1976-1981: Trustee, Vice-Chairman of the Board and member of the Executive Committee of ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria
-1976-1982: Founding Chairman, Science Advisory Board of the Northwest Territories
-1976-1986: Trustee and Chairman of the Executive and Finance Committee, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Mexico City
-1977-1983: Member, Board of Governors and Executive Committee, International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Nairobi, Kenya
-1978: Chairman, Review Committee, Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada
-1979: Member of Steering Committee of and author of report for Canadian Forestry Advisory Council
-1979-1982: Trustee and Chairman, Finance Committee, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh
-1981: Member, Quinquennial Review Committee for the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), World Bank, Washington
-1982-1983: Member, Quinquennial Review Panel for International Potato Research Centre (CIP), Lima, Peru. Retained by the World Bank to direct a management review prior to the meeting of the Panel
-1982-1985: Senior Advisor to the Canada/Newfoundland Royal Commission on the Ocean Ranger Marine Disaster and Chairman of the Commission’s 1984 Conference on Safety Offshore Canada
-1983: Consultant on management to the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
-1984: Retained by the World Bank to direct a management review of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Columbia
-1985: Chairman, Program Review, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria
-1986: Retained by the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research to visit their branches in Brussels, Lausanne, and Berne and to report to their headquarters in Zurich; member of its Toronto Committee
-1987: Retained by CGIAR to advise the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA), Monrovia, Liberia, in reorganizing its management structure
-1988: Participates in a management review of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Manila, Philippines
-1993: Died May 12

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

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.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Dr. Solandt’s personal records, as described in this inventory, are divided into six accessions: B1988-0016, B1989-0043, B1990-0022, B1991-0015, B1992-0011, B1993-0041, and B2012-0014 - totalling some 34 metres in extent. Individual finding aids to some of these accessions were initially prepared; they have been superceded by this inventory. Within each series the standard level of description is the file , though Item level description is provided for some photographs, maps and non-textual items.

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Finding aids

See attached PDF finding aid, "Inventory of the Omond McKillop Solandt fonds", for further details and a file listing.

Uploaded finding aid

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Finding aid prepared by Harold Averill in 1994
Revised in 2003 and August 2014
Added to AtoM by E. Sommers, March 2017




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