A Man and His Instrument

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Otto Julius Klotz, OLS, DLS, DTS was one of a small group of Canadians who earned the title Dominion Topographic Surveyor.  His diaries, started in 1866 when he was fourteen years old, detail personal records of his life and career, first as a land surveyor and later as 'Dominion Astronomer' at Canada's Dominion Observatory.

Klotz started work as a contract surveyor of the Dominion government in 1879, and continued in this capacity until 1892 when he became a full-time government employee.  His civil service career lasted forty-four years, until his death in 1923 at the age of seventy-one.

Klotz was active in the Dominion Land Surveys from 1879 to 1884, including the exploratory survey to Hudson Bay which he completed in 1884.  He performed a detailed survey of a river route for a proposed railway, requiring hundreds of astronomical observations, assessing the terrain and its suitability for the proposed project.  His official report and findings determined that the railway and port facilities were practicable but did not believe such a railroad would ever be built.

In 1885, he was assigned by the Dominion Government as chief of the astronomical observations to be conducted in British Columbia and the North West.  This made Klotz the first person in the federal government to be officially designated an astronomer in his job title.  He worked on the British Columbia Railway Belt Survey from 1885 through to 1890, and finally, in the surveys of the Alaska boundary relative to the dispute between the United States and Canada regarding the placement of the boundary during the 1890's.  In the early 1900's Klotz became one of two employees of the Dominion Observatory, the nation's first major astronomical observatory.  In 1916, he became head of that institution when he was appointed Dominion Astronomer.


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Transit:  W. & L.E. Gurley, Troy N.Y., Michigan Airline Railway, #470, brass, in excellent condition, 1-3/16" diameter telescope 11" long extends 1" on axis 6" long and 6-1/2" above horizontal plate 7" in diameter, compass box 5" in diameter marked in degrees 0 to 90 E & W of N & S, main level tube under scope 7-1/4" long between mounting centers, other level tube on left standard, 4 leveling screws, base of foot plate has female thread cut to receive 4" diameter tripod head, c/w adapter ring to receive 3" tripod head, total height including said ring 12".  Owned by W. Harvey Hall, OLS, DLS believed to have been used by O. J. Klotz, OLS, DLS, DTS in the 1870s and 1880s in his small southwestern Ontario survey and engineering practice as well as major national historic surveys.


The above information is courtesy of the Archives and Historical Committee of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors.





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