Henry E. Duckworth:

An Inventory of his papers at the University of Manitoba

Inventory prepared by Lewis St. George Stubbs
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
330 Elizabeth Dafoe Library

Finding aid encoded by Lewis St. George Stubbs (2012)
Finding aid written in English.

Collection Summary

University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
330 Elizabeth Dafoe Library

Henry E. Duckworth

Henry E Duckworth fonds


.8725 m. of textual & other records including 4 audiocassettes, 1 33.3 record, 1 contact sheet, 25 photos, 2 VHS tapes.

MSS119, PC 121, TC 165, (A.11-80)

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Biography of Dr. Henry Edmison Duckworth

Dr. Henry Edmison Duckworth's association with the University of Manitoba, going back more than 65 years, has been most significant. Since entering university in 1931 he distinguished himself in becoming the only person in the history of Manitoba universities to have had such a varied combination of participation in academic life: student, multiple graduate, professor, vice-president (academic), president, professor emeritus and, lastly, chancellor of the University of Manitoba.

Born in Brandon, Manitoba on November 1, 1915, he was the only child of Ann Hutton (nee Edmison) and the Rev. Henry Bruce Duckworth, D.D. He grew up in the communities which his father served. When Henry Jr. was eleven the family moved from his father's ministry in Transcona to St. James in 1926, the year after church union. When Parkview and Hampton Street United Churches merged in 1929, Rev. Dr. Duckworth was name first minister of the newly-formed St. James United. By 1936 he was named minister at old St. Andrew's United Church in central Winnipeg. In 1950 Rev. Dr. Duckworth became the founding minister of the then new Westworth United Church -- the "worth" having been so named in honour of his contributions. Thought almost 70, he remained unfailingly conscientious to his flock and continued providing Sunday services in and around the city and at points in northern Minnesota and North Dakota.

As a minister's wife, Ann Hutton Edmison Duckworth contributed substantially to the communities to which her husband ministered. Mrs. Duckworth well knew the important duties of serving the church, for her father, Henry Edmison, had long been a Presbyterian minister in Ontario and Quebec. He earned a B.A. in 1963, followed by an M.A. in 1866 from Queen's University. The family moved to Brandon. When Dr. Duckworth was a youth, his aged grandfather lived with them and impressed upon him the value of a good education and reading.

Henry Jr. recalled that the only period when he was not in school was the first seven years of his life. He attended elementary schools in Transcona and St. James and graduated from St. James Collegiate. He entered university in September 1931, attending classes at United and Wesley Colleges. While he no longer had his paper route, he remained for some time as cub pack leader for the young People's Society and as a member of a tennis club. Aside from his studies and community service, Duckworth was much involved in United College athletics: secretary of the athletic council, guard on the junior 'b' basketball team and captain of the college's senior football team in 1935.

He earned his B.A. in 1935, his B.Sc. in 1936 and a School of Education teaching certificate in 1937, all from the University of Manitoba. In 1937 he represented the education class on the University of Manitoba Students' Union (UMSU) executive and on the Inter-Faculty Athletic Council. Duckworth taught secondary school mathematics at Stonewall Collegiate (Manitoba) for a year until 1938 when, at not yet twenty-three years of age, he became a lecturer in physics at United College (later to become the University of Winnipeg). After teaching for three years, he entered the University of Chicago on a University Fellowship as a Ph.D. candidate and earned his doctorate in physics in 1942.

Later that year on November 21, he and Katherine Jane McPherson were married in Ottawa. She had graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics from the University of Manitoba the previous year, having been a prize and scholarship winner throughout her university years. Dr. Duckworth first saw his future wife in his father's church, St. Andrew's Elgin Avenue United, where the young dietitian sang in the choir. It was also in that very church that Katherine's parents had met and were later married in 1895. During World War II, Henry and Katherine brought their newborn son Henry William (Harry) to be baptized at St. Andrew's by his grandfather.

The period of study for his Ph.D. was followed by three years as a defense research scientist in radar and atomic energy during World War II for the National Research Council of Canada (1942-1944 in Ottawa as junior scientist and 1944-1945 in Hamilton as assistant research physicist). Duckworth enlisted in the ranks for the Royal Canadian Signal Corps but was transferred to civilian duty in the radio laboratory of the NRCC as part of the Canadian radar program and later, the British-Canadian nuclear program.

Duckworth's interest in the highly specialized field of mass spectroscopy began in 1940 in the laboratory of Arthur Dempster, an eminent expatriate Canadian who was his dissertation advisor. Duckworth became a pioneer in nuclear physics for his notable and numerous contributions in predicting energies released in the process of nuclear transmutation and discovering the rare stable isotope of platinum--mass 190 (then the rarest and lightest know). While with the National Research Council at Ottawa, Duckworth assembled the first mass spectrograph ever erected in Canada.

In order to accurately predict nuclear transmutation energies, Duckworth improved the quality of the mass spectrometer which then facilitated the possibility that "high Precision" determinations could be made of the atomic masses of molecules. Through this work he learned the breakthrough evidence that some sudden charges occurring as atoms subsequently merge to form molecules.

Duckworth was appointed assistant professor of physics at the University of Manitoba (1945-1946) and subsequently associate professor of physics and director of nuclear research at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut from 1946-1951 and professor of physics at McMaster University from 1951-1965. During his last four years at McMaster, Duckworth served as Chairman of the Physics Department and of Graduate Studies. He returned to the University of Manitoba on July 1, 1965, first as Vice-President (Development), and one year later, becoming Vice-President (Academic), a position he held for the following six years.

For the 1970-1971 academic term, Duckworth was visiting professor of physics at Université Laval until he was appointed President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg on August 31, 1971. Praised variously as displaying firm, wise, fair and resolute leadership as a first class administrator, Duckworth helped guide the institution during much of the first ten years of its history as a separate university. He stepped down as President in 1981. In 1986 he was chosen Chancellor of the University of Manitoba, a position he greatly enjoyed until the end of his tenure in 1992.

Duckworth's professional contributions are legion. He has held long-time memberships in the Royal Society of Canada (Fellow, 1954; Tory Medal, 1965; President, 1971-1972), in the Canadian Association of Physicists (President, 1960-1961; C.A.P. Medal of Achievement, 1964) and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. As well, he served as a member of the executive and Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (chair, 1977-1980; member, 1977-1979), of the Canadian Environmental Advisory Council (1973-1976), of the Science Council of Canada (1973-1977), of the National Library Advisory Board (1974-1979) and of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (President, 1976-1977).

Duckworth has been a member of countless other organization, such as the Society of the Sigma Xi (1947); Canadian Journal of Physics (editor, 1956-1962); National Research Council's Honourary Advisory Council (1961-1967); chair, International Union of Pure and Applied Physics Commission on Atomic Masses and Related Constants and secretary of their Commission on Nuclidic Masses (1966-1969); Defence Research Board (1965-1971); Selection Committee of the Order of Canada (1971-1972); chair, Evaluation Committee for Communications Technology Satellite (1972-1975); Killam Committee, Canada Council (1972-1975); Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (1978-1980); Institute for Research on Public Policy (director, 1978-1980); Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. (director, 1979-1980); Advisory Committee on Nuclear Safety of Atomic Energy Control Board (chair, 1980); Manitoba Council of Literacy (chair, 1990); Manitoba Club and Rotary Club of Manitoba.

Having led an outstanding career in research, Duckworth has over his lengthy career written about one hundred scholarly scientific papers. His research has been chiefly concentrated upon the precise determination of atomic masses and evidence obtained from this for variations in nuclear stability. Principal among his publications in this and other physics-related subjects is a textbook, Electricity and Magnetism (MacMillan and Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1960), a monograph on Mass Spectrroscopy (Cambridge University Press, 1958), a layman's account of atomic physics, Little Men in the Unseen World (Macmillan, 1963) and edited the Proceedings of the International Conference on Atomic Masses (1960).

In 1976 Duckworth received Canada's highest civilian honour -- The Order of Canada, from Governor-General Jules Leger. Duckworth has also received ten honourary degrees: United College/University of Winnipeg (Fellow, 1966), University of Ottawa (D.Sc., 1966), McMaster University (D.Sc., 1969), Université Laval (D.Sc., 1979), Mount Allison University (D.Sc., 1971), University of New Brunswick (D.Sc., 1972), Queen's University (D.Sc., 1978), University of Western Ontario (D.Sc., 1979), Brandon University (D.Sc., 1982) and University of Winnipeg (LL.D., 1984). He was also the recipient of the Nuttfield Foundation Traveling Fellowship (1955). Duckworth was honoured, too, by his birth province, with The Order of the Buffalo Hunt in 1992. The University of Manitoba has awarded him the University of Manitoba Alumni Jubilee Award (1961), an Honourary Doctor of Laws (1978) followed by the designation Professor Emeritus of Physics (1983) and the University of Manitoba Distinguished Service Medal (1992).

Duckworth was a popular speaker at academic, community or social gatherings. His shy, retiring nature seems to belie the fact that his speeches from the years 1938 to 1996 number in the hundreds. They are replete with reminders of the patient tact, thoughtful precision, forthrightness and persistent good humour of the man who wrote and spoke them. Duckworth has been a stamp collector for most of his life and is respected for his knowledge of specialized areas of philately. He and his son co-authored a book in that field, The Large Queens Stamps of Canada and Their Use, 1868-1872 (1985).

His son, Henry William (Harry), was born in Ottawa on October 11, 1943. He earned his B.Sc. (Hons) from McMaster University in 1965, receiveed his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Yale University in 1970, became a post-doctoral fellow in medical cell biology at the University of Toronto and has long been a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Manitoba (Department Head since 1994). He is a noted author of fur trade history. He married Mary Lynn Hollier (B.Cs. Hons, 1966; M.Sc., 1967, Ph.D., 1980 - all from the University of Manitoba). Dr. Mary Lynn Duckworth is an assitant professor of physiology at her alma mater.

Daughter Jane Edmison received her B.A. in French from the University of Manitoba in 1970, continued her studies at Université Laval and did post-graduate work at McGill University. She married Dr. Andrew Maksymiuk and they are the parents of Daniel, Michael and Catherine Jane. They lived in Montreal for many years before moving to Saskatoon, where Dr. Maksymiuk is an oncologist.

After close to forty-nine years of marriage, Katherine (Kay) Duckworth died on August 23, 1991 after a valiant struggle with cancer. She had been the ultimate support and inspiration for her husband and family. The family residences over the years, at 69 Oak and later, 76 Wilton in Winnipeg, were testimonials to Mrs. Duckworth's ability to make a genuine home. In addition, she well served the communities in which she lived by her dedication to countless causes and organizations.

Dr. Duckworth's Chancellorship portrait hangs in a place of honour in the Reference Hall of Elizabeth Dafoe Library. One of the honours which pleased Dr. Duckworth most was the official naming of the green space in the centre of the university grounds as "The Duckworth Quadrangle", where a plaque cairn cites his vast contributions. His son, Harry, and daughter-in-law, May Lynn, planted one of the large trees around the Quadrangle in 1990 in honour of Dr. Duckworth, Sr. He was instrumental in having biographical plaques erected to commemorate all those who have had buildings and land named after them on University of Manitoba campuses.

The University of Winnipeg has also honoured the man who gabve so much during the university's formative years. It fully modern sports complex bears the name, "The Duckworth Centre".

He celebrated his 80th birthday in 1995. Eariler that year on August 18, he and Shirley Yvonne Craik were married. In 1996 they moved to a residence at the junction of River Avenue and Wellington Crescent. Dr. Duckworth died on December 18, 2008.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The fonds consist of 12 series: They include biographical information, speeches, Advisory Committee on Nuclear Safety, correspondence, university historic plaques project, books, conferences, University of Winnipeg, research material, photograph collection, tape collection & oversize material.

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Restrictions on Use

No restrictions apply.

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Custodial History

The fonds were donated by Duckworth's son Henry

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Detailed Description of the Collection


11 Curriculum vitae 1994

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SPEECHES 1945-2002
12 Speeches 1945-1964
3 Speeches 1955-1970
4 Speeches 1963-1968
5 Speeches 1967-1969
21 Speeches 1967-1969
2 Speeches 1993-2002

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23 ACNS 1981-1988
4 ACNS 1983-1985
5 ACNS 1985-1987
6 ACNS 1985-1987
31 ACNS - annotated agena 1986
2 ACNS 1986-1987

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33 Publisher's correspondence 1961-1962
4 Correspondence 1962-1963
5 Correspondence 1962-1964
6 Correspondence 1963-1991
7 Cambridge University Press 1985-1990
41 Correspondence 1986-1987
2 Correspondence 1988-1996
3 University of Manitoba Archives 1997

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44 Plaques correspondence 1988-1990
5 Plaques & trees correspondence 1990-1991
51 Plaques includes biographical sketches 1988-1990
2 Biographical sketches - Reginald Buller, Robert Fletcher Argue, William Tier & John A. Russell ca.1990

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BOOKS 1961
53 Comments on Electricity & Magnetism 1961

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54 Third International Conference on Atomic Masses 1967
5 Conference correspondence 1964-1993

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56 Musical score for Duckworth's installation as President of University of Winnipeg 1971
7 Correspondence 1971-1981
8 President Emeritus 1981-1982

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61 British Association for the Advancement of Science - pamphlets 1909
2 Toba magazine issues 1934-1935
3 Manitoba Arts Review - vol. 1 - no. 1 1938
4 Manitoba Arts Review 1939
5 Union Internationale de Physique Pure et Appliquee 1963
6 Royal Society of Canada - Canadian Committee of IUPAP 1965
7 Academic freedom correspondence 1967
8 Royal Society of Canada 1971-1995
9 Dr. Arthur J. Dempster material 1972
10 National Research Committee 1976
11 IRPP executive committee 1964-1978
12 Memorial University Convocation for Installation of Paul Guy Desmarais as Chancellor - Duckworth addressed students 1979
13 Duckworth professor emeritus
14 Canertech Inc 1983
15 University College A Personal History - Murray Donnelly 1984
16 Alfred O Nier biographical material 1990-1991
17 Reminding Canada of Wartime Science 1995

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11 10 photos & 1 contact sheet 1951-1992
2 VHS of Fall Convocation Duckworth's Installation as Chancellor 1986
3 VHS of Duckworth dinner 1992

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11 2 tapes Duckworth installation as U. of Wpg. President 1971
2 Canadian Recording Industry Association in celebration of 100 Years of Recorded Sound 1977
3 2 tapes Duckworth dinner 1992

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11 Photo scrapbook while Chancellor 14 photos, U. of Mb. athletic jersey , photo American Physical Society meeting in New York 1946-1989

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