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Sarah Binks and the National Research Council of Canada

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·        Paul Hiebert was not merely a great writer and humorist who just happened to earn his living as a chemistry professor.  Even though many people know him as the author of Sarah Binks and other works, he regarded himself above all else as a scientist, and he enjoyed great recognition and a special kind of achievement in his field of chemistry.  This scientific work may have had a greater impact on Canada and the world, albeit less obvious to many, than his writing.  In fact, he conducted and published research that would win the Governor General's Medal for Science even before his graduation in 1924.  Heibert was in heady company as a young scientist, collaborating with the venerated  Dr. Otto Maass, a leader in the field and a highly decorated science advisor to government.  Their joint discoveries in the early 1920s involved the preparation of hydrogen peroxide and would have an influence on chemistry for decades. 

·         The little factoid that I uncovered was a link to my organization, the National Research Council of Canada.  I was amused to learn with the NRC Archives in Ottawa that although Hiebert’s work took place at McGill, he was operating as an NRC Research Fellow at the time of his big discovery and had received his funding for that specific project from NRC in Ottawa.  Hiebert had also been an NRC Scholarship Student during his earlier graduate work at McGill. While Hiebert soon moved back to the prairies and his career at UofM, Maas eventually came to Ottawa to work for NRC full-time.  I am personally emboldened to know that the author of Sarah Binks worked, even indirectly, for the same organization that employs me and that he did his satirical writing in his off hours away from a science-related job.  Hmmm ...

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The Story of My Copy of Sarah Binks

Sarah Binks and E. Pauline Johnson