Saunders, W. E. (William Edwin)

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Saunders, W. E. (William Edwin)

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William Edwin Saunders (1861-1943) was field naturalist and a pharmacist in London, Ontario and held the position of Professor of Practical Chemistry in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario.

Saunders was born in London, Ontario June 28, 1861, to William Saunders, a prominent pharmacist, and Sarah Agnes Robinson, daughter of a Methodist minister. The elder Mr. Saunders was a founder of both the Ontario College of Pharmacy and the Entomological Society of Ontario, a professor at the University of Western Ontario, and first director and driving force behind the Federal Experimental Farm in Ottawa, the first of its kind in North America.

He was very interested in nature and wrote many scientific articles on plants, birds, mammals, and other animals, mostly from Southern Ontario. He was one of the founding members of the Ornithological Section of the Entomological Society of Ontario (now the McIlwraith Field Naturalists) and the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. He was respectively the first Chairman and President of those organizations. He was also the first Canadian President of the Wilson Ornithological Club (now Society), and one of seven Canadians who were elected to ‘active’ membership in the American Ornithologist’s Union.

Saunders was considered a very important field naturalist of the London area. He has been named the “dean of Ontario field naturalists” and “dean of Ontario Ornithologists” for his influence over the careers of many who became naturalists.

He died June 28, 1943 in London, Ontario.


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Biographical information from: Cranmer-Byng, Jack, and Martin K. McNicholl. Ornithology in Ontario. Whitby, Ont.: Hawk Owl, 1994, and Taverner, P. A. "Memories of William Edwin Saunders." Auk 61.3 (1944): 345-51.

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