Ontario Fisheries Research Laboratory

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Founded in 1921

The Ontario Fisheries Research Laboratory was created through the organization and supervision of Benjamin Arthur Bensley during his time as Head of the Department of Biology at the University of Toronto. The Ontario Fisheries Research Laboratory came to fruition through the aid of a grant from the Ontario government, and was created as a distinct unit within the Department of Biology. The purpose of the laboratory was to be "a research branch to be devoted to the investigation of the water areas of Ontario with reference to existing biological conditions and economic problems". In 1937 the Ontario Department of Game and Fisheries also began to contribute significant grants to the laboratory.

Dr. Bensley continued to supervise the project after its establishment, and appointed Dr. W.A. Clemens to oversee the work of the laboratory. Clemens was succeeded three years following by W.J.K Harkness, a lecturer in Limnobiology. After his retirement in 1948, Dr. F.E.J. Fry took over the role as director and became an associate professor of Limnology. All of the directors of the Ontario Fisheries Research Laboratory during this period were faculty of the University of Toronto, and the laboratory in itself was kept as a unit within the Department of Biology.

Preliminary work was done by the laboratory on Lake Erie and carried on at Lake Nipigon from 1921-1926. Studies were then carried through at Lake Abitibi (1925), Lake Ontario (1927-1928), Lake Nipissing (1929-1935), Lake Opeongo, and South Bay, Manitoulin Island.

The laboratory was quickly recognized as one of the leading centres of research and training for fisheries and limnological investigators in America.


Craigie, H.E. A History of the Department of Zoology of the University of Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962.