Fonds SC122 - J. Dewey Soper fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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J. Dewey Soper fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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Reference code

CA ON00259 SC122

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Physical description area

Physical description

6 centimetres of textual records (3 volumes)
27 drawings : pencil
33 drawings : ink
3 drawings : watercolour

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Joseph Dewey Soper was born in 1893 at Preston Farm near Guelph, Ontario. He was an explorer-naturalist who mapped portions of the Canadian Arctic islands. He is renowned for his research on the nesting grounds of the Blue Goose on Baffin Island which he discovered in 1929. He was the Chief Federal Migratory Birds Officer for Alberta, the Yukon and Northwest Territories from 1948 to 1952. He published numerous papers and books on birds and mammals of western Canada, as well as earlier works on birds and mammals of Ontario. He also wrote significant papers on the birds of Nipissing and Timiskaming Districts, and Waterloo and Wellington Counties. He died in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1982.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of three volumes of J. Dewey Soper’s nature observation journals; two are typescript copies, and the third is a handwritten original.

The cover pages of the first two volumes state that they were transcribed in December 1970 from older notebooks that were written in pencil and had become smudged. Drawings from the original notebooks have been pasted into the transcribed volumes.

The first volume covers Wellington and Waterloo Counties from 1915 to 1918, and includes a list of birds observed at the Preston Farm, near Preston, Ont., in 1915, titled ‘Bird Migration’. The second volume covers Wellington and Waterloo Counties, Point Pelee, and Ridout, Ont., from 1918 to 1920, and has a list of specimens collected by Soper from January 1918 to March 1921. Both include brief bibliographies of some of Soper’s publications.

The third volume is handwritten, and like the first two contains drawings. It primarily covers Galt and Guelph in Waterloo and Wellington Counties, as well as trips to Proton Township in Grey County, and the Temagami area.. Included is a chart of birds observed in the Temagami area and Montreal River, Ont., from August 28 to September 11, 1920.

All three volumes contain narratives of Soper’s nature observations in the field, and include notes on birds, animals, and plants, as well as descriptions of weather and the landscape. The drawings in all three volumes are primarily of animals, landscapes, birds, and the occasional fossil.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The notebooks state that they were presented to the Department of Zoology, University of Guelph, by J.D. Soper. Craig Campbell of Waterloo, Ont., sent them to Ross James at the ROM in March 1996.


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There are no restrictions on access.

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Associated materials

The bulk of J. Dewey Soper’s fonds is held by the University of Alberta Archives. UofA’s holdings may duplicate these.

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No further accruals are expected.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2/21/2023 E. Thomas (Creation)

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