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Andrew McNaughton was born in Moosomin, Saskatchewan in 1887 and graduated from McGill University, holding the degree of Master of Science, with Honours in Electrical Engineering. This interest in science resulted in his invention of the cathode ray direction finder, the direct fore-runner of radar.
He is remembered by most as a military man who later became a member of the Canadian Cabinet assuming the post of Minister of Defence. His many other contributions to Canada are generally not realized.
He became Brigadier-General in 1918, Chief of Staff in 1929, and with the characteristic enthusiasm which he devoted to all his undertakings, secured Canada's place in civil aviation, represented Canada at several important Commonwealth conferences and established army-administered work camps for the unemployed. Work done at these camps created a network of airfields enabling the formation of Trans Canada Airlines, which later became Air Canada.
In 1935, he became President of the National Research Council where he remained until the second World War drew him into active duty once again.
McNaughton was named Chairman of the Canadian Section of the Canada-United States Permanent Joint Board on Defence in 1945 and the next year was appointed not only the Canadian Representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, but also President of the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada.
In 1948, he was appointed Permanent Delegate of Canada to the United Nations and a representative of this country on the Security Council.
General McNaughton became a Commissioner of the International Joint Commission in 1950 and shortly thereafter became its Canadian Chairman. During his 12 year tenure in this position, the IJC considered, among other major engineering projects, the development of the St. Lawrence River for power and navigation, the best use of the Columbia River for power in the West and the international tidal power potential in Passamaquody Bay.
General McNaughton died in Montebello, Quebec, July 11, 1966 and is buried at the Beechwood Cemetery, National Cemetery of Canada, Ottawa Ontario.
Over his lifetime, McNaughton demonstrated his extensive abilities as a diplomat, scientist and politician. Over a period of many years, he was deeply involved with many national engineering decisions.
IEEE Canada and the IEEE Canadian Foundation wish to remember General McNaughton for his contributions to the engineering profession in Canada. IEEE Canada awards the McNaughton medal to recognize outstanding Canadian engineers. The IEEE Canadian Foundation awards scholarships to recognize outstanding Canadian students, and grants to establish and develop IEEE McNaughton Learning Resource Centres. We also remember his address to a graduating class.
Acknowledgement: The portrait of General McNaughton featured here was painted in 1939 by Canadian artist Lilias Torrance Newton and today (2014) is in the library of the National Research Council, 100 Sussex Drive, Ottawa.
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