SOME REMINISCENCES OF GEOLOGY AT ACADIA 1968-1997
By the time most of you read this, I will be into the beginning of my early retirement. My decision to leave at the end of December was made possible when Alan Macdonald kindly agreed to take over my teaching for the remainder of the academic year. Reg Moore and George Stevens, among others, have been telling me how much they are enjoying their early retirements; and I expect to have lots to do, including as much travelling as possible. I will try to look up graduates when I can.
Lots of things have changed in my years at Acadia. In 1968, the Geology Department was in the southern section of Patterson Hall, now entirely occupied by Biology. Classrooms, labs and some offices were on the first three floors and the departmental library, graduate student offices and a couple of faculty offices were on the fourth floor. I particularly remember Reg Moore's office, a tiny room with sloping ceiling and poor lighting, under the eaves. The coffee room was the chemical storage room, and we sat on high lab stools around an ancient gas burner, waiting for the flask of water to boil. (Coffee time was during the twenty-minute daily chapel break.) There was no elevator, so we kept in good shape running up and down stairs. Most courses, including the mineralogy that I have recently been trying to cram into less than a term, lasted the full year; and there were Saturday morning classes. Every student had to enrol for two years of two languages other than English and a course in English Bible.
The Department moved into Huggins in 1970, and we had lots of space - for a while. Enrol-ments grew through the 70's and mushroomed into the 80's, with the apparent energy crisis. By 1983, when the jobs dried up, there were about 150 majors; by 1988, there were only 20. Various experiences come to mind, such as the graduate student who couldn't find a match to light the atomic absorption machine, and turned on the furnace to light a piece of paper. He forgot the furnace, which had no thermostat and eventually melted the insides! There was the breakdown of a rental van at Baie Verte in Newfoundland, which led to threats to leave the van there, fly the occupants back to Nova Scotia, and charge it all to Marshalls! The van was fixed, however, and came back with some rude labels. There were a number of trips, some in the dead of winter, to pick up drill core.
A major revolution came to the department about 1986, as to most places, with the introduction of computers. It's hard to believe that we were excited in 1970 to get a calculator (for $5000!) that could only handle part of a norm calculation! Geology courses are now coming into the Acadia Advantage program, and faculty are trying to strike a proper balance between the hands-on and the programmed. I don't worry that a CD will replace rocks, minerals, fossils, maps, etc., at least not with the present faculty.
I expect to spend some time in the Department in the spring, cleaning out my office and storage, and working on collections. You can try my e-mail to correct or add to any of the above!