William Edmond Logan

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Sir William Edmond Logan
William Logan.jpg
Sir William Edmond Logan (1869)
Born 20 April 1798
Montreal, Lower Canada
Died 22 June 1875(1875-06-22) (aged 77)
Castell Malgwyn, Wales
Citizenship United Kingdom
Nationality Scottish, Canadian
Fields Geology
Institutions Geologist, H M Geological Survey
Director of the Geological Survey of Canada (1842-70)
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Known for "Geology of Canada" (1863)
Notable awards Wollaston Medal (1856)
Royal Medal (1867)

Sir William Edmond Logan FRSE FRS FGS (20 April 1798 – 22 June 1875) was a Scottish-Canadian geologist.

Logan was born in Montreal, Lower Canada (now Quebec), and educated at the High School in Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh (graduated 1817). He started teaching himself geology in 1831, when he took over the running of a copper works in Swansea. He produced a geological map of the south Wales coalfield. Based on this research, in 1840 he presented to the Geological Society of London his paper "On the character of the beds of clay lying immediately below the coal-seams of South Wales, and on the occurrence of coal-boulders in the Pennant Grit of that district." This paper suggested his opinion that the layer of clay under the coalfield was the old soil in which grew the plants from which the coal was formed.

His abilities as a geologist were noticed, and in 1842 he was asked to establish the Geological Survey of Canada. In 1855, he recruited Robert Barlow as the survey's chief draughtsman. He continued as director until 1869. During this time he described the Laurentian rocks of the Laurentian Mountains in Canada and of the Adirondacks in the state of New York. In 1864 Logan founded the Geological Survey of Newfoundland on request of the colonial government, and appointed his assistant at the Geological Survey of Canada, Alexander Murray as its inaugural director.[1]

He discovered Logan's Line, the demarcation between the heavily folded Appalachian Mountains and the flat sedimentary rocks, laid down during the Paleozoic Era, lying inland of them.

Mount Logan was named in his honor.


Over his illustrious career he received 27 medals including the Legion of Honor from Emperor Napoleon III of France in 1855 and a knighthood from Queen Victoria in 1856. In the same year he was awarded the Wollaston Medal by the Geological Society of London.

After his retirement in 1869 he settled in Pembrokeshire in west Wales and died at Castell Malgwyn, the home of his sister, Elizabeth Gower. He was interred in the churchyard in the village of Cilgerran.

Posthumous honours[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Charles Schuchert, Carl Owen Dunbar, Stratigraphy of western Newfoundland, Geological Society of America, Memoir 1, 1934, pg. 1.
  2. ^ Alan Rayburn, Naming Canada: stories about Canadian place names, Revised and Expanded Edition, University of Toronto Press, 2001, pg. 25.
  • Logan, William E. (1 April 2007), William E. Logan's 1845 Survey of the Upper Ottawa Valley, Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Museum of Civilization Editor: Charles Smith This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction 

External links[edit]

Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
John Charles Fields
President of the Royal Canadian Institute Succeeded by
Sir Daniel Wilson (academic)