Walker, Edmund Murton

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B.A. University of Toronto (1900)
M.D. University of Toronto (1903)
Lecturer in Zoology (1906)
Professor of Invertebrate Zoology (1926)
Head of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology (1934-1948)

Honorary Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Royal Ontario Museum of Zoology (1934) Director of the Go Home Bay Biological Station President of the Entomological Society of Ontario (1910-WWI) Royal Society Flavelle Medal

Edmund Walker was appointed as lecturer at the University of Toronto at the same time B.A. Bensley was appointed as associate professor in 1906. Walker's work and research largely focused on invertebrates and entomology. He was promoted through the University to the position of Professor of Invertebrate Zoology in 1926, and acted as the Head of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology from 1934 to 1948. His publications were extensive and specialized in studies on the Othoptera (an order of which includes crickets, grasshoppers and locusts) and the Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). Walker was considered a world authority on these groups.

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

E.M. Walker began in the Natural Sciences when he started as a freshman at the University of Toronto. While there, he had been quoted to say he "fell under the spell of Professor Ramsay Wright's famous course of first-year lectures", and later had taken courses with Professor Jeffrey, Macallum, and R.R. Bensley. Walker began his degree in Medicine during this final year of his B.A., and graduated from his B.A. in 1900, followed by his B.M. in 1903.

Following graduation, Walker spent a year as a hospital intern, followed up a year as an assistant at the Department of Biology, and another year at the University of Berlin, where he became a lecturer in Zoology under Professor Ramsay Wright. During the summers he worked as a Director at the Go Home Bay Biological Station, where he began his investigations on the Aeshna genus. He completed his first large monograph on this topic in 1912, following at least five shorter entomological publications.

Dr. E.M. Walker succeeded Benjamin Arthur Bensley after his sudden death in January 1934. Walker was officially appointed as Head of the Department of Biology on July 1st of that year. Unlike his predecessors as Head of the Department of Biology, Dr. Walker did not undertake the directorship of the Royal Ontario Museum of Zoology, a title which had been tied to this position up until this point. Dr. Walker had felt that the responsibilities of both positions could not be satisfied adequately by one man, and thus the position of Director of the Royal Ontario Museum of Zoology was appointed to Professor J.R. Dymond in his place. Dr. Walker retained strong relations to the Royal Ontario Museum of Zoology through his position as Honorary Curator of Invertebrate Zoology.

E.M. Walker was the son of Sir Edmund Walker, a prominent figure at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum. He held a wide array of cultural interests, while also possessing an enthusiastic and friendly personality, making him very popular amongst his students and colleagues. He was a talented artist and exhibited his skills through his free blackboard drawing, the beautifully executed illustrations in his publications,and the oil paintings he produced on his free time. As a lecturer, Walker was able to effectively convey his tremendous knowledge of invertebrates to his students through his clearly organized notes and impressive presentation skills. He was known to be a very good mimic, applying it in lecture to reproduce the sounds of various insects.

In the summer of 1913, Walker made a trip to the Pacific Biological Station with Mr. T.B. Kurata, where he discovered the Grylloblatta, high in the Rocky Mountains, near Banff, which attracted world-wide attention. He continuously put out publications, including several large monographs, eventually accumulating a three volume work called The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, which was produced after his retirement.

During his time as Head of the Department of Biology, the Department of Physiology was transferred from the Faculty of Medicine, having a large influence on the studies within the Biology Department. What was once a department based in morphology became one largely based in physiology, until it eventually became the dominating viewpoint.

In the 1940-1941 session the department name was changed from the Department of Biology to the Department of Zoology.

Dr. E.M. Walker retired in 1948 with the title of Professor Emeritus. Following his retirement he continued his investigations on dragonflies, and visited the Royal Ontario Museum and the Biological Building on occasion.