Goal of this Proposal

This proposal endeavors to raise the issue of the preservation of the Dominion Observatory and to suggest a new role that will not only preserve the observatory and artifacts but also provide a venue for the teaching of science and technology to the public. In addition, if the experience of the Royal Greenwich Observatory7 in London UK can be followed, such an observatory can become a very popular tourist attraction.

  1. The first goal of this proposal is to preserve the artifacts and records of the Dominion Observatory and the related artifacts and records related to earth and environmental science that are currently being disposed of. This includes the main telescope, but also other related instruments and especially the documents describing the research done at the observatory. A parallel goal is to preserve the same artifacts and documents from NRCan, DND, and DFO from the Booth Street site that relate to earth science that are being disposed of now. The Canadian developments in earth and environmental science are closely related to the original scientific aims of the Dominion Observatory.
  2. The second goal is to endeavor to ensure that the development of the new Ottawa Hospital does not block the future conversion of the Dominion Observatory into a Science Museum by building a building that blocks the view of the observatory, or by introducing light pollution that eliminates the usefulness of the observing site.
  3. The third goal is to propose that the Federal Government turn the Dominion Observatory into a science museum. This museum could be part of the group of museums associated with the Canada Science and Technology Museum (i.e., the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum). Some of the artifacts such as the telescope are currently housed at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
  4. The fourth goal is to provide a venue for the teaching of science and technology. The Canada Science and Technology Museum already addresses part of this role. However, that museum does not have the resources or facilities to address the aspects of earth and environmental science including astronomy, seismology, mapping, weather, and the factors affecting the environment. As a museum the Dominion Observatory would be a good venue for explaining the principles of earth science ranging from astronomy and the measurement of time (and position) to geophysics and the factors affecting climate and environmental science. It will also be able to teach history because the observatory was established in part to survey and establish the borders of the western provinces. The history of the exploration of the west and the great explorers can be highlighted.
  5. An indirect goal is to create a first‐class tourist attraction promoting Canadian scientific achievement in the city of Ottawa. Other capital cities in the world have such attractions, such as the Carter observatory in Wellington New Zealand8, the Observatoire de Paris9, and especially the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London UK10 among many others. In Cape Town South Africa an observatory similar to the Dominion Observatory was established in 182811 with transit circles capable of determining precise longitude established in 1905. The main observatory is used for public outreach. Also Washington's U.S. Naval Observatory12 has a special status being on the grounds of the residence of the Vice President of the United States of America. It seems that almost every major capital city hosts an observatory. The number of visitors to the Royal Greenwich Observatory in 2014 was 1,517,787 visitors13.
6https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local‐news/science‐and‐tech‐museums‐new‐storage‐building‐could‐be‐too‐small‐within‐five‐years 7 https://www.rmg.co.uk/royal‐observatory
7 Greenwich has the Prime Meridian, but the story of the development of Standard Time and time zones by Sir Sandford Fleming, and the research into continental drift are also very compelling stories. The Dominion Observatory could be an important asset to Ottawa.
14 https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/267024/response/650631/attach/html/3/Copy%20of%20NMM%20Visitor%20Summary%20Apri l%202014%202015%203.xlsx.html