Recognizing the 150th Anniversary of the foundation of the Geological Survey of Canada as an apt moment to assess and explore the historical context of the Survey, this paper examines the founding of the Survey, the role of William Logan as the first Director and the manner in which he shaped the structure and vocabulary of Canadian geology. The examination uses the concept of Metropolis and Hinterland pioneered by J. M. S. Careless to contextualize Canadian History.
Great Britain and the United States were metropolises for the Canadian hinterland. Great Britain was a model of imperial science and possessed a working consensus on doing geology that provided a framework for Logan and the Geological Survey. The United States, a less developed metropolis asserting its independence from British influence, offered a model of public geology in its Geological Surveys and a vocabulary of local nomenclature applicable to the Canadian rocks. Emulating both metropolises, Logan borrowed from each in a dynamic interaction as he worked to develop a distinctive response to Canadian social and scientific needs. Often uncomfortably aware of both metropolises and their mutual antagonisms, Logan had to carefully pursue his work in a setting of tension and opportunity, while creating a functioning Canadian Survey and a sophisticated Canadian geology.