Morley K. Thomas, 1918-2018

Morley K. Thomas

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Morley K. Thomas, the father of Canadian meteorological history, died in late March in Watford, Ontario at the age of 99.

Morley began work with the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) in 1942, teaching student pilots in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Over his next 43 years at the MSC, he wrote countless papers, reports, and books on climate; taught climatology; rose to be President of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) and of the World Meteorological Organization’s Commission for Climatology; and retired as director general of the Canadian Climate Centre.

…And the day after retiring, he returned to work to continue researching the history of his field. He published four books, including The Beginnings of Canadian Meteorology and Metmen in Wartimemuch more of his historical writing is available on the CMOS Archives website. His full obituary is here.

I met Morley just once, when he presented in a Canadian Climate History workshop I was co-hosting at the University of Western Ontario in 2008. That this was ten years ago is amazing to me. That Morley was ninety at the time is even more amazing: take a few minutes to listen to his lively talk on building a Canadian climate bibliography here.

Morley had a special affection for Western, having played football with the Mustangs in the late 1930s and graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Physics in 1941. He donated a small amount of personal papers to Western Archives some years ago. This in turn served as grounds (one of many) for the Environment Canada meteorology and climatology collection coming to Western Archives in 2014 on long-term loan. And just recently, a further collection of historical material that he had collected over his career was also loaned to Western Archives by Environment Canada, so as to make the Morley K. Thomas Meteorology History Archives more accessible to researchers and the general public. This material is currently being prepared for access; more information will be shared when the material is fully available.

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I am a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. I was Director of NiCHE, 2004-15. You can reach me at amaceach@uwo.ca.

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