Fonds SC55 - John Townson fonds

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John Townson fonds

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Reference code

CA ON00259 SC55

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Dates of creation area


  • 1905-1934 (Creation)

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Physical description

4 cm of textual records

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Name of creator

Biographical history

John Townson (1856-1934) was a naturalist, hunter, and writer. Townson was born May 13, 1856, in Carlyle, England. He wrote a column on birds for the Toronto Globe newspaper for many years, as well as publishing some of his bird watching notes in journals such as the Auk. His primary interest was marshes, and he spent much of his time observing birds at Ashbridge's Bay, Toronto, and Wellers Bay, south of Trenton. In 1886, Townson was part of a committee responsible for the abolition of the spring bird hunt in Ontario. Townson died near Trent on October 9, 1934.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of annotated copies of Chester A. Reed's Bird Guides, as well as two speeches written by John Townson. The Bird Guides were published in 1906, and consist of brief descriptions of birds, accompanied by illustrations. The songs, nests, range, and subspecies of the birds are given. The books were annotated by Townson with the dates of his sightings. A note written by James L. Baillie in the first volume states that 'the records in these two guides were all made at Fisherman's Is., Toronto (unless otherwise stated) by J. Townson, chiefly 1905-1934.' Copies two speeches by John Townson complete the fonds. One speech, titled 'Birds of Prey and the Sportsman' is handwritten and undated. Both handwritten and typescript copies are the second speech, 'Reminiscences of Ashbridge's Bay Marsh and the Eastern Sandbar from 1864 onward' are present. A note on the typescript copy states that it was read by John Townson at the Brodie Club on may 12, 1931.

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Immediate source of acquisition

The annotated Bird Guides were given to the Library of the Royal Ontario Museum of Zoology by Hubert Townson; it is not known if the manuscripts were donated at the same time.


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The ROM holds 17 bird specimens collected by Townson, primarily in Wellers Bay, Ontario.

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General note

Biographical information from: Cranmer-Byng, Jack, and Martin K. McNicholl. Ornithology in Ontario. Whitby, Ont.: Hawk Owl, 1994.

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