John Patterson (meteorologist)

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John Patterson
Born January 3, 1872
Oxford County, Ontario
Died February 22, 1956 (1956-02-23) (aged 84)
Clarkson Township, Ontario
Nationality Canada
Education B.A., M.A.
Alma mater University of Toronto
Cambridge University
Occupation Physicist, meteorologist
Spouse(s) Margaret Norris
Children Arthur Patterson
Parent(s) Francis Patterson
Annie Telfer

John Patterson (January 3, 1872 – February 22, 1956) was a Canadian physicist and meteorologist.

Born on a farm in Oxford County, Ontario, he was one of thirteen children of Francis Patterson and Annie (Telfer).[1] He matriculated to the University of Toronto, graduating in 1900 with a B.A. in engineering,[2] and was awarded a 1851 Exhibition Science Research Scholarship to study physics for his M.A. at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.[3][4] There he performed studies of thin metallic films and their electrical properties, ionization of the air, and the variation of electrical resistance of metals when exposed to magnetic fields.[5]

Patterson traveled to India in 1903 where he served as professor of physics at the University of Allahabad,[2] until in January 1905 he was named imperial meteorologist to the Government of India at Simla.[4][6] On January 1, 1906, he was married to Margaret Norris, a medical practitioner and professor of obstetrics working in India. The couple would have two children, one of whom died in India. With John suffering from ill health, the couple left for Toronto with their son Arthur in 1910.[7]

He became a physicist for the Canadian Meteorological Service,[2] where he was responsible for organizing a pilot program for performing upper air observations using balloons.[4] In 1912 he was placed in charge of the newly formed department of physics at the Central Office in Toronto.[8] During the First World War, he worked for the British Admiralty to perform an experiment in extracting helium from natural gas. Following the war, he was involved in designing a new barometer and was responsible for developing the 3-cup anemometer now in widespread use.[4][9] In 1925 he became assistant director of the Meteorological service, then in 1929 he was named director (controller), succeeding the retiring Sir Frederic Stupart. Patterson would hold this post until his retirement in 1946.[6] He was elected to serve as president of the American Meteorological Society during 1930–31 and president of the Royal Canadian Institute in 1932–33.[10]


  • A meteorological trip to the Arctic Circle[11] (1915)
  • Upper air investigation in Canada: observations by registering balloons[11] (1915)
  • Pilot-balloon work in Canada[11] (1920)
  • The cup anemometer (1926)
  • Airship meteorology[11] (1931)
  • Canada's program for the International Polar Year 1932-33[11] (1932)
  • The development of meteorological science[11] (1933)
  • Meteorological services for Trans-Canada Airways[11] (1939)
  • Weather services for Canada's airways[11] (1939)
  • A century of Canadian meteorology[11] (1940)
  • Sir Frederic Stupart[11] (1941)
  • Meteorology related to the science of aviation[11] (1944)
  • Meteorology in peace and war[11] (1949)
  • Meteorology[11] (1949)


  1. ^ Parker, Charles Whately; Greene, Barnet M., eds. (1952), Who's Who in Canada, 40, International Press Limited, p. 1324. 
  2. ^ a b c Chant, C. A. (September 1929), "Notes and Queries (Rotation period of Neptune-Death of W. R. Warner-Withdrawal of Sir Frederic Stupart)", Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, 23, p. 340, Bibcode:1929JRASC..23..339C. 
  3. ^ "Patterson Medal in Meteorology", Nature, UBC Press, 158, pp. 614–614, November 2, 1946, Bibcode:1946Natur.158Q.614., doi:10.1038/158614a0, retrieved 2013-04-04. 
  4. ^ a b c d Kelkar, R. R. (July 8, 2007), "Canadian Meteorologist in British India: John Patterson", Cloud and Sunshine, ISBN 1550223038, retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  5. ^ Kim, Dong-Won (2002), Leadership and Creativity: A History of the Cavendish Laboratory, 1871-1919, Springer, p. 161. 
  6. ^ a b Thomas, Morley, "John Patterson", The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica-Dominion Institute, retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  7. ^ Glasbeek, Amanda (2009), Feminized Justice: The Toronto Women's Court, 1913-34, UBC Press, p. 38, ISBN 0774859091. 
  8. ^ "Notes", Nature, 88 (2197), p. 185, December 7, 1911. 
  9. ^ Vignola, Frank; et al. (2012), "Solar Resource Instrumentation", Energy and the Environment, CRC Press, p. 260, ISBN 0774859091. 
  10. ^ Thomas, Morley (1996), Forecasts for Flying: Meteorology in Canada 1918-1939, ECW Press, p. 146, ISBN 1550223038. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Thomas, Morley K. (February 2009), History of Canadian meteorology: a bibliography, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, ISBN 0774859091, retrieved 2013-04-05. 

External links[edit]

  • Thomas, Morley (August 21, 2006), The John Patterson Medal, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, retrieved 2013-04-04.