HENRY JOHN DUFFUS
January 16, 1997
Here are a few biographical notes on me to add to your expanding data base. Genealogical record is already in that base.
Henry John Duffus, BApSc, Ba,DPhil, DPhil, n.d.c.,
I was born in Vancouver, B.C., Canada in 1927. My father owned and ran the Duffus Business College. Having fought the encroaching government involvement in that business for decades, my father did not encourage me to continue it, although I went through all its courses at an early age, and even taught a little.
After winning a provincial scholarship to the University of British Columbia I embarked on the engineering program during the final years of World War II. At first I headed towards aeronautical engineering, but I found large numbers of aeronautical engineers unemployed in Los Angeles. Therefore, l changed to Physics on the recommendation of my professor who correctly advised me that one would never make any money at it, but physics was fun.
Several of us decided to ask the university to start an Engineering Physics program. We had no trouble in getting the faculty to do so...and without the strikes and sit-ins which later characterized student/faculty negotiations with the same faculty as in our day. So we formed the first class to graduate in Engineering Physics in 1948.
Engineering aside, I spent a great deal of time in amateur dramatics, becoming president of the Players' Club and playing very minor roles on stage with a surprising number of people who later became professional actors. During the summer of 1948 I worked at the Suffield Experimental Station in Alberta for the Defence Research Board on field trials with nerve gas countermeasures. I learned the valuable lesson that nobody was looking after me anymore when, after a nerve gas bomb drop, I found my gas mask leaked. After a memorably bumpy small aircraft ride across the prairies following a much too boozy bachelor party, I reached Victoria and shortly afterwards married my wife of forty eight years, Maureen Stuart Yates. Many particulars of her family's long association with Victoria are to be found in her historical novel "A Most Unusual Colony" ISBN 1895332-1 1-7.
We honeymooned in Quebec City and took up my first teaching job at the fledgling Carleton College in Ottawa. At that time it was a rather hand-to-mouth establishment. Each summer the staff waited for the announcement of the Provincial Government's financial grant to learn if they still had jobs. Some of them didn't. Now it is the well known and well established Carleton University.
During the summers I attended the Graduate School of Physics at Columbia University in New York. One summer I worked at the National Research Council Laboratory in Ottawa perfecting a method to make artificial sapphire and ruby. During the winter I also took extension graduate courses from McGill University, Montreal, in Electrical Engineering. Maureen had continued her career as a journalist by getting a job with the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. However, she had inherited some money in England which could not be taken out of the country. When the Dean of Arts at Carleton got me into New College, Oxford, and the National Research Council came up with a scholarship, there was little point in finishing at McGill or Columbia. I quit my job at Carleton, and we took the Empress of Scotland across the rather rough Atlantic, spending the next three years in Oxford...a very happy choice.
At the Clarendon Laboratory I worked on solid state microwave spectroscopy using the recent wartime advances in radar equipment and the special low temperatures and large magnetic fields available at that laboratory. We did not know it at the time, but this area of research led soon afterwards to the invention of masers and lasers.
After graduating with a degree of D.Phil. I looked for a job in Canada. The Defence Research Board was growing at that time, and offered a job at Suffield. However I held out for a job at the new Pacific Naval Laboratory in Victoria...then a collection of army huts. For the next five years I was engaged in submarine detection methods. As submarines had become capable of standing off the coast and firing nuclear missiles, our job was to develop long range acoustic tracking capability and short range magnetic detection methods to identify the target precisely for attack by ship or aircraft. The magnetic detection problems led us to a fascinating area of study of the ionosphere, the auroral regions, and the emissions from the sun. Sputnik and other satellites had just gone up, and the electromagnetic properties of space around the earth were of great interest. Our secret acoustic detection equipment provided an advantage in electronics which made our research results of world class interest.
After five years at the Pacific Naval Laboratory I was offered the job of Professor of Physics and Head of the Department at Royal Roads Military College. I enjoyed the return to teaching and the challenge of finding synergies between the Defense Research Board interests and those of the Army, Navy and Airforce who were our supporters. Thus a good deal of surplus Defence Research Board scientific equipment found its way into Royal Roads teaching and research laboratories. We were not constrained by aircraft or ship costs to do experiments quickly, nor to use the absolutely newest state of the art equipment.
Maureen continued her career in journalism at both Victoria daily newspapers, rising to Editor of the Women's Section. Later she produced the public relations newsletters for the Institute of Ocean Sciences, at Pat Bay, north of Victoria.
In 1966 I spent a sabbatical year at Oxford and at ['Institute de Geophysique at the Universite de Paris, mostly at their Laboratoire Geodynamique Soumarin in Villefranche sur Mer. As the Russians had just offered them support for underwater geomagnetic research and hence the Americans had pulled out, this was not a very good time to get much work done.
In 1976 I was sent to the National Defence College, Kingston, for their year long orientation program about world politics and economics. This involved many months of travel, lectures and briefings in the company of about forty upwardly mobile military officers, senior civil servants, university professors and business people. It was a remarkable experience.
During my years as Dean of Science and Engineering, including a few as Acting Principal, Royal Roads Military College grew from a three year undergraduate feeder college to a college with bachelors degrees in science and arts and masters degrees in science. We pioneered many advanced courses in underwater acoustics and oceanography based upon the existing and foreseen requirements of the armed forces. I retired in 1989. In 1995 the government closed both Royal Roads Military College and the National Defence College as an economy measure. No comment.
Since retirement I have started the Victoria branch of the Tetra Society. Their volunteers invent, design, or adapt aids for handicapped people which are not available commercially. Maureen has edited and published two books of local history and written and published "A Most Unusual Colony". Her brief "author's biography sheet" is attached. We live in a bit of the country now bypassed by the city, and from time to time keep sheep, horses, dogs, children and grandchildren.
I have read many of David Duffus' articles on the Internet about his whale research, and I have located his CV which follows after the bitmap images from John Duffus.
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