1948: First Betatron in Canada
Active support from the Board of Governors, President Thomson, the provincial government and in particular, two years’ of intensive lobbying from physics professors Harold Johns, Ertle Harrington, Newman Haslam, and Leon Katz culminated in the University of Saskatchewan becoming the only site in Canada to have a 25 million electron-volt betatron in 1948.
The betatron gave the department of physics a first-class facility for radiation treatment research and nuclear research, and the “succession of publications” which followed helped maintain a national reputation for the department and its students. Indeed, their work has had a cumulative effect for the institution. The betatron “showed that the department...warranted a linear accelerator facility,”1 which in turn helped demonstrate the suitability of locating the synchrotron on the University campus.
Obtaining Canada’s first betatron in 1948 was the result of a unique
set of circumstances. Not least was the
dedicated effort of Johns, Haslam and Katz, whose working relationship was
clearly one of respectful friendship.
Much of the credit belongs to E.L. Harrington, head of the department of
It was, however, precisely this potential application to which the Atomic Energy Commission expressed their reservations, clearly stating to the University that they had “some doubts as to whether research was fully advanced to make such a project practicable.”4 Harold Johns would soon prove their caution misplaced.
Department of Physics fonds, RG 2043.
1948a: E.L. Harrington. Photograph Collection, A-3191.
1. Currie, p. 177.