The following extended obituary of Don Rose served as the basis for the version published by the Royal Society of Canada. It was written by Ian McDiarmid in December, 1988. There is also discussion on Don Rose in the transcript, particularly in the section on NRC.


by Ian McDiarmid

Donald Charles Rose died on August 2,1988 in Brockville, Ontario, after a short illness. He was in his eighty-seventh year.

Don Rose was bom in Prescott, Ontario, on April 17,1901, the son of Charles and Jean (Shilington) Rose. He received his early education in eastern Ontario and later attended Queen's University.Kingston, where he obtained B.Sc.(1923) and M.Sc.(1924) degrees in Engineering Physics. In 1925 Don was awarded an Exhibition of 1851 Overseas Scholarship which he held at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, where he worked under Sir Ernest Rutherford. He participated in some of the early experiments on the scattering of alpha particles by nuclei and received his Phd. degree in 1927. The following year he spent at the Wills Physical Laboratory, University of Bristol, on an Exhibition of 1851 Senior Studentship.

In 1929 Don returned to Canada and married Louise Sandford. In the same year he was appointed to the position of Lecturer at Queen's University, Kingston, but discovered that his real interests lay in research rather than teaching. The following year he was appointed an Assistant Research Physicist in the recently established laboratories of the National Research Council (N.R.C.) in Ottawa, being one of the first group of young scientists to be appointed by the Council. Don's early work in the Physics Division of the N.R.C. was devoted largely to solving problems referred to the Division from outside the Council and for which his engineering background from Queen's made him particularly well suited. For some time he was the sole member of the General Physics Section of the Division and as such was expected to solve problems related to such things as: variations in grain-grading techniques, electrical methods of killing chickens, electrical discharges in aerial cameras, and vibrations in aircraft. While some of this allowed him to develop new instrumentation, work which he enjoyed doing and for which he had a remarkable talent, his main scientific interests were in more basic types of research, and during this period he found time to carry out and publish several studies on the electrical properties of the atmosphere; in fact, by 1934 he had published seventeen papers on a wide range of topics.

In the mid 30's Don met General McNaughton who was then Chief of the General Staff at Defence Headquarters and who was interested in developing techniques to measure accurately the velocity of projectiles. This meeting was to result in a major change in the direction of Don's work which would carry through until after the end of the second world war.

Shortly after the meeting with McNaughton, Don set up a ballistics laboratory in the basement of the new N.R.C. building on Sussex Dr., Ottawa. This was the first in a series of events that led to the General Physics Section, Don in particular, playing a major role in military research during the war.

The nature and scope of Don's work during the early part of the war are well illustrated in a description of his duties given by Dr. MacKenzie, then President of the N.R.C.:
"The war has made such demands on the General Physics Section that today Dr. Rose as head of the Section is directing the efforts of 26 men of which 13 are highly trained physicists. He is responsible for a complete programme of research into the field of ballistics for the Inspection Board, and other secret problems in physics for the three armed services, such as the development and construction of fire control gear and anti-submarine detectors, etc. In addition to the above increase in responsibilities and duties attached to his position as head of the General Physics Section, Dr. Rose is now acting as Scientific Liaison Officer between the National Research Council and the Royal Canadian Navy and occupies the post of Deputy Director of Scientific Research for the Navy. As such Dr. Rose has the added responsibility of seeing that all the various scientific problems investigated by the National Research Council for the Navy are co-ordinated and kept progressing. Dr. Rose handles this for the Council as a whole, though a good percentage of such problems are attacked and solved right in the General Physics Section. In addition. Dr. Rose has the added responsibility of looking after a very extensive field programme of naval research at both the eastern and western coasts, where over 30 more trained physicists and engineers are engaged."

In 1943 Don was made Scientific Advisor to the Chief of the General Staff (Army) and seconded to the Department of National Defence where, in addition to his advisory role, he was responsible for an Operational Research Group. In 1945 he was transferred to the Department of National Defence and appointed Chief Superintendent, Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment, Valcartier, Quebec. During his two and one half years at Valcartier his broad knowledge of science and his keen interest in technical matters resulted in the implementation of several novel projects, including the development of the first Canadian Irocket, the Velvet Glove.

In 1948 Don faced a difficult decision, whether to remain with the Department of Defence or to return to the N.R.C.; he chose the latter and was appointed a Principal Research Officer in the Division of Physics and given the freedom to choose his field of research. Over the next several years he built up an active group in Cosmic Ray Physics, the first such group in Canada. Again his considerable talents were put to use in the development of new instrumentation for measuring the intensity, energy and direction of Cosmic Ray particles. In 1949 continuous monitoring of Cosmic Rays was started at Ottawa and Resolute Bay in northern Canada, and in the same year the first instance of a sudden cosmic ray increase following a solar flare was recorded. Monitors were also installed at Fort Churchill, Manitoba, and on Sulphur Mountain, Alberta, so that variations with both latitude and altitude could be studied. The latitude coverage was improved even further when in 1954 cosmic ray monitors were placed on board the ice-breaker H.M.C.S. Labrador which sailed from Halifax through the North-west Passage down the west coast to the Panama Canal and back to Halifax. Don was Chief Scientist on the voyage which was only the fourth time a ship had sailed through the Passage. The next year the same equipment was placed on board an American ship that sailed from Boston to the Antartic and back. The monitoring equipment performed extremely well on these expeditions giving a wealth of good data which, among other things, gave the first good measurement of the location of the Cosmic Ray Equator. Later, Don collaborated with HCarmichael of Deep River, Ontario, to establish a network of high counting rate monitors in nothem Canada. This network, some of which is still in operation today, produced large quantities of high quality data which was much in demand by the international scientific community.

In addition to his research in Cosmic Rays much of Don's time, particularly after about 1956, went into the successful organization of two major research programs. One was Canadian participation in the International Geophysical Year (IGY) and the other was the initiation and organization of Space Research at the N.R.C. and in Canadian Universities.

The IGY was a period (1957-58) chosen by the international scientific community for a coordinated large-scale study of various geophysical phenomena. Canada played a major role in the program, partly because the north magnetic pole and a large part of the auroral zone lie in Canadian territory, and partly because of Don's efforts as Chairman of the Canadian Organizing Committee. In the year following the IGY Dr. Beals, the Dominion Astronomer, wrote to Dr. Steacie, the President of the N.R.C., saying that the success of the Canadian contribution to the program "has been to a great extent due to the efforts of Dr.Rose, who made an outstanding contribution in organizing and coordinating the work of numerous different scientific organizations in the Canadian Government, the Universities and private industry. Dr. Rose took hold of the situation at a time of some confusion when there was a good deal of disagreement as to how the Canadian effort should be run, and his gifts as a scientist, administrator and diplomat soon got things on the rails and made it possible for Canadian science to make its maximum response to this worldwide cooperative program."

Don's interest in Space began with the Velvet Glove project at Valcartier. His activities during the IGY convinced him that Canada, in particular the N.R.C., Canadian Universities and industry, should become actively involved in Space Research. In May 1959 he wrote to Dr. Steacie recommending the creation of an Associate Committee on Space Research which would promote and coordinate space research in Canada. He also recommended that the N.R.C. collaborate with the U.S. Army, which had established a rocket range at Fort Churchill, Manitoba, to launch a number of rockets with Canadian payloads. Shortly thereafter an associate committee was formed, and under Don's leadership a program in upper atmosphere and near space research was started with participation by scientists from several Universities, the Defence Research Board and the N.R.C. The program was also responsible for the early development of Black Brant rockets by Bristol Aerospace ofWinnepeg and the creation of SED Systems Ltd. (a space hardware company) of Saskatoon. Much of the scientific and technical expertise developed in the rocket program by scientists in University and Government laboratories was later put to good use in the Alouette-ISIS satellite program.

Don also played an active role in many other associations and committees, although only a few will be mentioned here: in 1949 he was President of the Canadian Association of Physicists; for many years he was Canadian representative on the Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space; he took an active part in the organization of COSPAR, an international Space committee, and served as Chairman of its finance committee until his retirement. In spite of the fact that he attended many meetings in many countries Don was never completely at ease during meetings and sometimes gave the impression he would prefer to be doing something else. He could often be seen doing what he called three dimensional doodling in which he would fold a piece of paper into fascinating and near impossible shapes - he claimed this made meetings more tolerable.

Don was an active promoter of the N.R.C. Post-Doctorate Fellowship program and many Fellows were attracted to his group in Ottawa. New Fellows quickly felt at ease with him, partly because of his own modest approach to his work, and to life generally, and partly because of his obvious interest in their welfare. In a short time they felt very much at home and in many small ways Don acted like a father to them. He treated his staff, both professional and technical, in much the same way he treated Fellows; it would be difficult to imagine a more pleasant laboratory atmosphere than the one he created.

In recognition of his scientific and organizational abilities, both during and after the war, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and received honorary degrees from a number of Canadian Universities.

In 1966 Don officially retired from the N.R.C. where he held the position of Associate Director, Division of Physics. Following the death of his wife Louise in 1967 Don moved to Brockville, Ontario. In 1970 he married Caroline Findlay and enjoyed a quiet retirement at their home in Brockville. He is survived by his wife Caroline, his sister Anna Findlay, and several nieces and nephews.