National Museum of Natural Sciences (Canada) : The origins of the what is now known as the Museum of Natural Sciences can be traced back to the hiring of William Logan as provincial geologist for Upper Canada (now Ontario). On July 5, 1841, the first session of the Parliament of the united province of Canada entertained a petition from the Natural History Society of Montreal, and the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec for a systematic geological survey of the province (Canada [Province], Legislative Assembly, Journals, 1841, p. 559, 10 Sept., 1841). Logan's survey started the following year and is now widely considered the beginning of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). In the course of their work and as their field of investigation widened, Logan and his fellow geologists gathered large collections of scientific evidence. Although money was scarce, a series of small buildings was leased throughout the 1840s and 1850s in Montreal to house these collections. The arrangement of the collections emerged gradually into a formalized repository. This was spurred on in large part by the organization of materials to be presented at the 1851 Exhibition in London. Gathering and arranging materials for exhibitions would continue as a core function of the Geological Survey until 1921, when the responsibility for exhibitions was transferred to the Department of Trade and Commerce.
The need for a permanent site to house the collections was a constant precoccupation for almost seventy years, beginning in the founding days of the GSC. As early as 1852, Logan stressed the desire that a national museum be created. Until he resigned in 1869, Logan fought for the necessary funding. As the Geological Survey continued to grow and its roles, especially the exploration of the west, became identified as important nation-building enterprises, its funding increased. In 1868 Parliament gave the Survey a much stronger financial footing. The GSC was to receive 0 000 annually for the next five years and was given a mandate to collect specimens and deposit them in the `Geological Museum, as a collection for the whole Dominion of Canada' (31 Vict., 2, 1868). In 1877 the GSC was instructed by Parliament to collect material for a `Canadian Museum of natural history, mineralogy and geology' (39-40 Vict., c. 7, 8). The museum grew rapidly. At the same time, both the Survey and its Museum moved to Ottawa from Montreal.
1907 marked a major turning point of the National Museum. In that year the Department of Mines was established (6-7 Ed., VII). The Geological Survey was absorbed into the Department and divided into two branches, a Survey Branch and a Mining Branch. Support for the Museum came from both branches. Important developments began to steer the Museum away from its origins. In 1912 the Victoria Museum Building opened in Ottawa, finally giving the Museum a permanent home and space to grow. Under the supervision of Eugene Hanaal and, later, R. W. Brock, the staffing of the museum underwent noticeable changes. Gone were the days of the nineteenth-century amateur scientist. A new regime of professionalism was instilled and strict educational and scientific requirements were introduced for the staff involved with the institution. Additionally the preoccupation with geology in the Museum gave way to other specialities, such as botany and anthropology.
Despite the strides made in the early years of the century, however, the museum stopped growing and with the Great War came a reduction in funding. By the onset of the Great Depression, the museum was in decline through a combination of restricted funding and a diminishing status within the Department of Mines. Reinvigoration came after the Second World War. Mines and Resources had formally separated the Museum from the Survey Branch in 1921. In 1950, that separation continued when the Museum stayed with the new Department of Resources and Development and the Survey Branch shifted to the new Department of Mines and Technical Surveys. In 1951, the Survey moved physically from the Victoria Museum Building. In this department, renamed Northern Affairs and National Resources in 1952, the functions of the museum shifted to reflect the nature of its parent department. Emphasis was placed on the scientific and economic interests and the museum strived to publish and present educational material (National Museum of Canada, Annual Report 1949-50 and Annual Report 1952-53).
In 1968, responsibility for the National Museum was transferred to the newly created National Museums of Canada Corporation (16 Eliz., II, c. 21-22). Along with the reorganization came a name change and the National Museum became known as the Museum of Natural Science. On 1 July 1990, the museum became a Crown Corporation and its name changed to the Museum of Nature (38 Eliz. II, c. 3).