Jaan Terasmae, Professor Emeritus Earth Sciences at Brock University,
died suddenly on Tuesday January 20, 1998. Jaan was born on May 28,
1926 in Estonia. He fled Estonia at the outbreak of the Second World
War to continue his education in Sweden, obtaining his Phil. Cand.
degree from the University of Uppsala in 1951. In 1952 Jaan emigrated
to Canada to begin work on his Doctoral degree at McMaster University
in Hamilton where he concentrated on Quaternary geology, paleoecology
and palynology. Upon receiving his degree in 1955 Jaan went to the
Geological Survey of Canada to take up the position of Head of the
Pleistocene Palynology Laboratory, which he continued to run for the
next 12 years. In 1968 Jaan took over as Head of the Paleoecology and
Geochronology Section of the Survey.
In 1968 Jaan was approached to leave the Survey and become the first
Chair of the Department of Geological Sciences at Brock University.
Jaan was instrumental in setting up the undergraduate and graduate
programs with a focus on Quaternary Geology and Environmental Geology,
these being among, if not the first such programs in Canada. Jaan also
recognized the value of field work in teaching and led a number of
field trips and field courses. One of the most interesting field
projects was the link he helped establish between the community of
Pond Inlet, Baffin Island, and Brock University. In 1972, with support
from Brock University, Munster University, the Polar Continental Shelf
Project and German Shipbuilding interests, the Pond Inlet Research
program set out to study the sea ice in Eclipse Sound as an aid in
designing vessels that could travel in the region. Several Brock
Geology undergraduates who were field assistants with the project
had completed their degrees but would not be able to attend the
Spring Convocation prior to heading to Pond Inlet. The Department
of Geological Sciences received approval to hold a special convocation
for the students at Pond Inlet, with a dais constructed using a
dogsled placed on gasoline drums. Several pictures of this event
were published in TIME magazine.
Jaan's research interests spanned all aspects of Quaternary geology.
His palynological studies documented the glacial and interglacial
events in North America, especially the last glacial termination in
Ontario. With co-workers from the Canada Centre for Inland Waters he
carried out limnological studies of the Great Lakes Basin and he also
carried out various dendrochronological studies, and he published more
than 125 scholarly articles. Jaan was elected a Fellow of the Royal
Society of Canada in 1977, and in 1990 CANQUA awarded him the W. A.
Johnston Medal for meritorious service and professional excellence
in Quaternary research. At the time of his retirement in July 1991,
Jaan maintained membership in 23 scientific societies, including CAP.
He served as CAP's President in 1985.
At the suggestion of Jaan's colleagues, associates and students
The "Jaan Terasmae Student Award for Quaternary Studies" will be
set up at Brock University. Jaan is survived by his wife of 44
years Vaike, who still resides in St. Catharines, and a brother,
Ilmar, of Trenton.
Francine M. G. McCarthy
Department of Earth Sciences, Brock University
St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1, Canada
Note: This article appeared in CAP Newsletter 21(1):6-7, 1998.