Elkanah Billings

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Elkanah Billings
Elkanah Billings.jpg
Elkanah Billings
Born (1820-05-05)May 5, 1820
Rideau River
Died June 14, 1876(1876-06-14) (aged 56)
Nationality Canada
Fields paleontology

Elkanah Billings (May 5, 1820 – June 14, 1876) is often referred to as Canada's first paleontologist. Billings was born on a farm by the Rideau River outside Bytown (Ottawa), now known as Billings Estate. His parents were named Lamira and Braddish Billings. His family included an older sister named Sabra and an older brother Maj Braddish Billings Jr, who practiced as an architect and served in the North West Rebellion. His brother W. Ross Billings also practiced as an architect. His younger siblings were Samuel, Sarah and Charles.[1] He was originally educated in law and in 1845, he was called to the Canadian bar. In 1852, he founded the journal the Canadian Naturalist (and Geologist). He continued to practice law until 1856, when he was hired to be the first paleontologist for Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). In his lifetime, he identified 1065 new species and 61 new genera, including Aspidella, the first documented fossil of the Ediacaran biota.[2]

He married Helen Walker Wilson in 1845. However, he was childless.[1]


  • Gover, Nancy (1986), A brief history of the Billings family of Ottawa 1812-1975., Ottawa, Ontario: Billings Estate Museum 
  • Kitchen, Kevin (1996), Braddish Billings, Esquire, early Ottawa entrepreneur. Bytown pamphlet series., Ottawa, Ontario: The Historical Society of Ottawa 


cover of Canadian Naturalist and Geologist volume 1 number 3
  1. ^ a b City of Ottawa. "Elkanah Billings, 1820-1876". Billings Estate National Historic Site. Retrieved 19 April 2010. 
  2. ^ William Miller (2007). Trace Fossils: Concepts, Problems, Prospects. Elsevier. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0-444-52949-7. 

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