University of Saskatchewan



"So we are all agreed that Canadian space science really started in Saskatchewan. But I'll bet you think that it started here at the University. I think you're wrong. I think it started when a completely frustrated Saskatchewan farmer picked up a pitchfork and chased an incompetent foreign labourer once around the cowbarn and then off into the sunset…The incompetent Welsh labourer, of course, was Frank Davies and the experience convinced him that he really wasn't cut out to be a farmer, that he had better find a university where he could continue his studies in physics. The university that he found was [the University of Saskatchewan] and the rest is history…it was the interaction between Frank Davies and Balfour Currie that is important to the story."

- Peter Forsyth, "How Did We Get Here From There?" 1987


Balfour W. Currie

Frank T. Davies


Balfour Watson Currie (1902-1981) was associated throughout his academic career with the University of Saskatchewan, as a Professor and Head of the Department of Physics, founder of the Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies, Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-president, Research.


Frank Thomas Davies (1904-1981) taught as a Lecturer in the Department of Physics, University of Saskatchewan; was a member of Byrd's first Antarctic Expedition; was Director of the Carnegie Geophysical Observatory in the Peruvian Andes; and was Director-General of the Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment.


They worked together at Chesterfield Inlet during the Second International Polar Year (1932-1933). Their records and data analysis from that period were of primary importance in shaping future research in aurora borealis and upper atmospheric studies.


This exhibit documents that year at Chesterfield Inlet, largely through Currie and Davies' own words, with photographs taken by them, and through sample documents and research data.


Related links:

University of Saskatchewan Department of Physics

Balfour Currie Memorial Scholarship
(you must do an Awards Search in the category of Arts & Science)


Awarded annually to a student who has completed at least two years of an undergraduate program, and continues full-time in Physics or Engineering Physics.
No Application Required.


For more virtual exhibits visit Archives Canada:



Curator: Cheryl Avery
Site Design and Graphics: Luke Sather

Sources: Departments of Physics fonds, Institute for Northern Studies fonds, Walter Kupsch fonds, and J.E. Kennedy fonds.


Effort was made to stay true to the quality and characteristics of the slides and negatives. This may manifest as visible stains or scratches, cracked glass, lack of contrast, unevenly masked edges, rounded corners, labelling dots, or mirrored images in some cases.


This site has been made possible by financial support from the federal government
through the Canadian Council of Archives, the National Archives of Canada,
and the Department of Canadian Heritage.



Next - The Second International Polar Year

© 2002, University of Saskatchewan Archives