Commemorating the rich history of the Meteorological Service of Canada

·6 min read
Commemorating the rich history of the Meteorological Service of Canada

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


On July 1, 1867, the Dominion of Canada was officially born. On May 1, 1871, the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) was established, under the Department of Marine and Fisheries, making it one of the country's oldest government institutions.

The MSC monitors weather forecasts and warnings, and conducts research on climate, atmospheric science, air quality, water, ice and other aspects of the environment.

Before the founding of the MSC, other entities monitored these environmental observations, including the Hudson's Bay Company, explorers and British officials.

In 1871, the Government of Canada founded the MSC by giving professor G.T. Kingston of the University of Toronto a $5,000 grant to create a network of weather observations.

Toronto Magnetic Observatory, WNW 2
Toronto Magnetic Observatory, WNW 2

*"The Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory on the grounds of the University of Toronto." Courtesy of Maury Markowitz/Wikipedia.

Since then, the MSC has made incredible strides. This makes sense, because it has been 150 years.

At the end of 1878, for the first time, the MSC provided forecasts for the Maritime provinces. In the 1920s, wireless radio revolutionized meteorology, as information could be communicated among hundreds of remote weather stations across the country.

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In 1973, the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) was founded in Dorval, Québec. Dr. André Robert led the team, focusing on weather research, modelling and computer science. In 1986, the CMC ran a version of its dispersion model after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.

The centre monitored the plume aftermath for more than six weeks and advised government organizations such as Health and Welfare Canada, and the World Meteorological Organization.

In 2015, the MSC installed additional observation sites and enhanced weather technology specifically for the Pan American and Parapan American Games held in Toronto, Ont. The Ontario Storm Prediction Centre provided specialized forecasting for the Games.

Obviously, a ton of other milestones occurred throughout the MSC's 151 years. To learn more, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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Thumbnail: CMC building viewed from the West. Courtesy of Pierre cb/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

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