William Brydone Jack Observatory National Historic Site of Canada
Fredericton, New Brunswick
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1992.
5 Bailey Drive - University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1851 to 1851
William Brydone Jack Observatory
Existing plaque: University of New Brunswick 5 Bailey Drive - University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick
Born in Scotland and educated at St. Andrew's, Jack came to Fredericton in 1840 as Professor of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, and Astronomy at King's college. In 1851 he built the first astronomical observatory in what is now Canada and equipped it with the best available instruments. In collaboration with Harvard University, he extablished the correct longitude of Fredericton and several other sites in New Brunswick and corrected errors in the international boundary. As President of the University (1861-65) he succeeded in establishing the young institution upon firm academic foundations. He died at Fredericton.
Description of Historic Place
The William Brydone Jack Observatory National Historic Site of Canada is a small structure, consisting of an octagonal tower topped with an octagonal conical roof, with a one-storey, gable roofed portion to one side. The building is covered with wooden clapboarding, and simple wooden mouldings and brackets under the roof finish the exterior surfaces. The interior volumes are also plain and serviceable. Designation refers to the building on its footprint.
William Brydone Jack Observatory was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1954 because: it was the first astronomical observatory in Canada.
The William Brydon Jack Observatory was built in 1851 at the instigation of William Brydone Jack, professor of mathematics, natural philosophy and astronomy; and president of the University of New Brunswick, 1861-65. Schooled in the traditions of Scottish universities, he equipped the observatory with the best instruments of the day. In collaboration with Harvard observatory he determined the longitude of Fredericton and other places in New Brunswick, and corrected errors in international boundaries.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1954.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: its simple, functional design, consisting of a short octagonal tower topped with a conical roof, with a one-storey rectangular wing attached; the construction materials, simple finishes and volumes; the internal disposition of spaces; the surviving equipment; the building’s site and setting in relation to the University of New Brunswick campus.