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Since its inception in 1842, the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) has had to contend with demographic, geographic, political, and cultural factors peculiar to the country and substantially different from those prevailing in either Britain or the United States of America.

Problems of logistics beset the GSC particularly after Confederation in 1867 and the acquisition of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1870, when a vast area, much of it climatically hostile, was added to its exploratory responsibilities. Innovative field exploration methods ranged from track surveys by canoe in the 1880s to helicopter reconnaissance in the 1950s. Although at first geologists were responsible for the topographic mapping of the country, this task was taken over by a Topographical Division, which in time separated from the GSC and became part of the present-day Surveys and Mapping Branch.

Geology departments of universities in Canada were unable to provide sufficient numbers of geologists with a Ph.D. degree, as desired by the GSC. Until after World War II, most professional geologists in either the GSC or die universities obtained their highest degree outside the country, mostly in the United States.

Publication of results on geological studies done by or for the GSC or provincial surveys has been and still is in government documents. Increasingly, periodicals became vehicles of communication. With the establishment of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences in 1964, Canadians now have a periodical of world standing available at home for the publication of geological papers.

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