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Ernest Melville DuPorte (1891-1981)

Dr. Ernest Melville DuPorte is recognized as one of Canada's foremost insect morphologists. He was an exceptional teacher, scientist and scholar whose significant contributions in entomology in the area of Orthoptera (crickets/grasshoppers) were recognized worldwide. He spearheaded the establishment of the Institute of Parasitology at the Macdonald Campus of McGill University, propelling Canada into the forefront of parasitology research. Through his brilliance, his scientific contributions, and his extreme perseverance he was able to overcome racial barriers and achieve international stature in his profession.

E. Melville DuPorte was born on the Island of Nevis, British West Indies, and was identified early as a student with remarkable ability. He arrived at McGill University in Montréal in 1911 on a St. Kitts-Nevis Legislative Council special scholarship. There he remained for the next 70 years making an exceptional contribution to the study of insects and their critical economic roles in the destruction of crops and forests, and their medical/veterinary roles in the transmission of diseases to humans and livestock.

In 1920, DuPorte's Ph.D. thesis was widely acknowledged as a pioneering work on Orthoptera. It was the culmination of an outstanding record of study at McGill in which he fast-tracked academic degrees and was engaged early to teach. Through his courses and influence on curriculum, Macdonald College became a recognized centre for insect study. In 1934, DuPorte propelled research into the tick vector and generated sufficient government support to fund an Institute of Parasitology that still works worldwide with governments and agro-producers to eradicate plant, animal, and human parasites.

When he officially retired in 1957, DuPorte had taught more than half the practicing entomologists in Canada. In 1916 he was appointed as regular staff of the Zoology and Entomology Department, but despite his achievements full tenure came slowly. While he functionally led the university's Entomology Department for decades, he did not become its head until 1955. His contribution as a mature scientist was similarly undervalued until he published Manual of Insect Morphology in 1959: it is now a classic textbook. DuPorte has been important in establishing Canada's international scientific reputation.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada

Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of the Environment regarding the national historic significance of places, people and events that have marked Canada’s history. The placement of a commemorative plaque represents an official recognition of historic value. It is one means of informing the public about the richness of our cultural heritage, which must be preserved for present and future generations.

News Release associated with this Backgrounder.