John Macoun (1831-1920) was born in Magheralin, County Down. He emigrated to Canada in 1850 at nineteen years of age.
He became Professor of Natural History at Albert College, Belleville. He explored vast tracts of north-west Canada and influenced through his botanising the course of the Canadian Pacific Railway and also the pattern of settlement in the Prairies. He was the author of Manitoba and the Great North-West (1882), Catalogue of Canadian Plants (1883-86) and Catalogue of Canadian Birds (1909). He was, in fact, the greatest Canadian naturalist of the 19th century.
And being an immigrant, he embodied the Irish contribution to Canada and Canadian culture. Indeed, it is hard to think of many Irish who contributed more to the making of Canada than Macoun. He was a founder member of the Royal Society of Canada. He died in Sidney, Vancouver Island.
His story is told in a book edited by Professor John Wilson Foster FRSC, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia and Honorary Research Fellow, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University Belfast, in 1997 Nature in Ireland: A Scientific and Cultural History (Lilliput, Dublin; McGill-Queen’s UP), pp. 354-60, and his biography, by W.A. Waiser, appeared in 1989 (Univ. Toronto Press).
See also www.qub.ac.uk/sites/JohnWilsonFoster
The Ireland Canada Monument Society is very grateful to Professor John Foster for his assistance.