Nuclear History

Reference books on Canada’s nuclear history


Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy
USA Dept of State June 1955

Eldorado: Canada's National Uranium Company 

Eldorado: Canada’s National Uranium Company
by Robert Bothwell, University of Toronto Press, 1984

Nucleus: The History of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited 

Nucleus: The History of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
by Robert Bothwell, University of Toronto Press, 1988

Nuclear Pursuits: the scientific biography of Wilfrid Bennett Lewis 

Nuclear Pursuits: the scientific biography of Wilfrid Bennett Lewis
by Ruth Fawcett, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994

Canada Enters the Nuclear Age: a technical history of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited as seen from its research laboratories 

Canada Enters the Nuclear Age:
a technical history of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited as seen from its research laboratories

Edited by D.G. Hurst, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997

Isotopes and Innovation; MDS Nordion's First Fifty Years, 1946 - 1996 

Isotopes and Innovation:
MDS Nordion’s First Fifty Years, 1946 – 1996

by Paul Litt, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000

The Politics of CANDU Exports 

The Politics of CANDU Exports
by Duane Bratt, University of Toronto Press, 2006

Canada's Nuclear Story 

Canada’s Nuclear Story
by Wilfrid Eggleston, Clarke Irwin, 1965

Web links (CNS and external) on Canada’s nuclear history


  • Canadian Nuclear Chronology (Updated Nov 25 2009)
  • Canadian Nuclear Pioneers (Updated November 11, 2008)CNS / SNC
  • CNS Conferences: List of papers and authors
  • CNS Bulletin: Table of contents 1980 – present
  • The Formative Years of the Canadian Nuclear Society from the first issue of the Nuclear Journal of Canada, March 1987 (95 kB pdf).
  • The (tall?) Tale of the CNS Logo from the CNS Bulletin, Vol 19, No.1 (12 kB pdf).Early Years / Le Début
  • The Rutherford Museum at McGill University.
  • 50 Years of Nuclear Fission in Review (1989 CNS Conference Special Symposium)
  • The Development of Nuclear Reactor Theory in the Montreal Laboratory of the National Research Council of Canada (Division of Atomic Energy) 1943-1946 by M.M.R. Williams. See also Canadian and British Early Atomic Energy Reports (1940-1946).
  • Early Decisions in the Development of the CANDU Program by J.L. Gray
  • Early Years of Nuclear Energy Research in Canada by G.C. Laurence
  • Le début de la recherche nucléaire au Canada par G.C. Laurence
  • Releasing the Power of the Atom – Early Canadian Connections by D. McCormack Smyth
  • Atomic Energy Research by U.B.C. Scientists (293 kB pdf) UBC Alumni Chronicle, Autumn 1956
  • Canada’s Role in Atomic Bomb Drama: Canadian Department of Reconstruction Press Release August 13, 1945
    • Part 1 – Description (3297 kB pdf)
    • Part 2 – Participants (2506 kB pdf)
    • Part 3 – Biographies (3125 kB pdf)

    Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories

  • Cataloguing Scientific Reports written in the years 1942-1952: relating to the Montreal Laboratories and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Chalk River Laboratories – Handbook
  • ZEEP – Canada’s First Reactor by R.E. Green and A. Okazaki, CNS Bulletin Vol 16 No. 3, Autumn 1995
  • ZEEP Reactor – AECL Public Affairs brochure ca. 1970 (1007 kB pdf)
  • ZEEP – AECL Public Affairs brochure 1992 (833 kB pdf)
  • The Day the Atom Ran Amok – from REAL, the exciting magazine FOR MEN, April 1955.  A (dated) popular press version of the Dec 12 1952 NRX accident (4.5 MB pdf)
  • Research in Neutron Physics at Chalk River by B.W. Sargent, Chapter 5 of “The Science and Engineering of Nuclear Power”, Vol II, Addison-Wesley 1949 (974 kB pdf)
  • Chalk River Reactor School brochure (ca. 1960) (1260 kB pdf)
  • Chalk River CANDU Country, in the Toronto Star, July 18, 1982
  • Algonquins to Atoms Along the Ottawa – an essay by CNS member Jeremy Whitlock on the rôle of nuclear power in the development of the Ottawa River
  • Une aventure passionnante sur la rivière des Outaouais – une dissertation par Jeremy Whitlock, un membre de la SNC, au sujet de la vie et le développement sur la rivière des Outaouais, des bouilloires en cuivre aux réacteurs nucléaires
  • Entering the Nuclear Age – an article by CNS member Jeremy Whitlock on the early years of nuclear science and technology in Canada, published in the Legion Magazine of Canada’s armed forces.
  • “Dale of the Mounted – Atomic Plot” a children’s mystery book from 1959, set in Ottawa, Chalk River and Deep River. Dated but amusing.
  • Scientific Technical Translation Inc has three interesting historical links on the town of Deep River, the bedroom community of AECL’s Chalk River Laboratories:
    1. Small Towns of Canada a 1960’s-era CBC Radio broadcast on Deep River, in which Lloyd Robertson interviews Dr. D.A. Keys, Dr. W.B. Lewis and Jac Cropley.
    2. Almost the Perfect Place to Live Peter C. Newman writes for Maclean’s Magazine in this 1958 article exploring why Deep River is loved and hated by its residents.
    3. Deep River Revisited A former Deep Riverite provides a look at the town in Canadian Geographic’s winter 1987 issue.
  • Memories from the Staff Hotels Deep River, 1945-1985Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment
  • An History of the WR-1 Reactor at Whiteshell Laboratories, Manitoba
  • Une histoire du réacteur WR-1 aux Laboratoires de Whiteshell, ManitobaHeavy Water
  • An Early History of Heavy Water 2002 revision by Chris Waltham, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia.
  • On the Trail of Drum T-7, the story of the French heavy water sent to Canada during WWII, and its post-war odyssey.
  • The Production of Heavy Water at Trail, B.C., by E.A. Barlow, CRE-374, March 8 1948 (pdf 846 kB)Nuclear Power Demonstration
    2012 was the 50th anniversary of the start-up of Canada’s first power reactor – the Nuclear Power Demonstration (NPD) reactor near Rolphton, Ontario. In 2002 the Canadian Nuclear Society, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of nuclear power in Canada, unveiled both a historic plaque and an interpretive sign, in cooperation with the Ontario Heritage Foundation. The following articles on NPD are available on the internet: 

    1. Nuclear Power Demonstration reactor, the first Canadian power reactor
    2. Le réacteur NPD, la première centrale nucléo-électrique du Canada
    3. Background Essay from CNS Application to Ontario Heritage Foundation, by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock
    4. Nuclear Power Demonstration reactor, reprinted from Directory of Nuclear Reactors, vol IV, 1962
    5. In the Fall 1965 edition of Nuclear Safety there is an article, in pdf format (745 kB), titled “NPD reactor operating experience”, under the section “Current Events”, and author “G. Hake”.
    6. NPD photo archive
    7. The metalworking behind Canada’s first nuclear power station, reprinted from Canadian Machinery and Metalworking
  • The Roles Played by the Canadian General Electric Company’s Atomic Power Department in Canada’s Nuclear Power Program: Work, Organization and Success in APD, 1955 – 1995, M.A. Thesis by G. CantelloDouglas Point Nuclear Power Station
  • The Douglas Point Story, about the 220 MWe CANDU built on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario in the 1960s.
  • AECL-2400 “The Douglas Point Nuclear Power Station”, August 1963, reprinted March 1966.
  • AECL-1515 “Douglas Point Nuclear Power Station”, Spring 1962 Canadian Nuclear Technology (3488 kB pdf).
  • A celebration of the 40th anniversary of Douglas Point on September 27, 2006 at the Bruce Power Visitors Centre. The press release is located here.
  • The Douglas Point Song (6.3 MB mp3) written and performed by DP retirees Frank Baker and Doug Stewart, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Douglas Point. This song (and interview) is reproduced with permission from Frank, Doug, and “The Coast” 95.5 FM, Kincardine.
  • The essay in support of the Ontario Heritage Foundation plaque commemorating Douglas Point.
  • The Canadian postage stamp issued July 27, 1966, commemorating peaceful applications of nuclear technology and featuring Douglas Point.
  • See also the exhibit The Story of Douglas Point at the Paddy Walker House in Kincardine, Ontario.Québec
  • L’histoire de l’énergie nucléaire au Québec. Un extrait du livre « Nucléus » de Robert Bothwell, sous-titré « L’histoire de L’Énergie Atomique du Canada Limitée »Uranium Mining
  • Uranium History from Saskatchewan Interactive (University of Saskatchewan)
  • The Eldorado Radium Silver Express, CNS Bulletin, Dec 2005Medical
  • “This World of Shadows” about X-rays and radium, from the Children’s Treasure House, circa 1928
  • Historical Vignettes of the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncologists (CARO)Miscellaneous
  • Electrical Counting  Redux [Sorter Web (70KB), App.1 BD (14KB), App.2 SCH (128KB), App.3 PL (41KB), App.4 TIM (55KB)]
  • 45th anniversary of the McMaster University Reactor
  • Atoms for Peace +50, the fiftieth anniversary of US President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s speech calling for greater international cooperation in nuclear science and technology.
  • Synchrotron: Canadian Light Source 70 years in the making from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix Oct 20, 2004.
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Commercial Letter “Neutrons at Work”, August 1963, reprinted March 1966.
  • World’s First Isotope-Powered Weather Station, (882 kB pdf) Canadian Nuclear Technology, Fall 1961

Empire Club of Canada Speeches

  • The Peacetime Applications of Atomic Energy by Dr. David Arnold Keys, Scientific Adviser to the President, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, 7 Apr 1955
  • The Miracle of Atomic Energy by Sir John Cockroft, 12 November 1959
  • Putting the Atom to Work by Dr. J. Herbert Smith, President, Canadian General Electric Co. Ltd., January 14th, 1960
  • The Great Equalizer: Nuclear Power and Canadian Electricity by Milan Nastich, Interim Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Hydro; President, Canadian Electrical Association, 3 November 1983
  • Nuclear Safety and the Energy Future – Are Our Nuclear Reactors Safe? by Dr. Kenneth Hare, Chancellor, Trent University, 30 Mar 1989
  • Canagen Energy Inc.–A Public Private Partnership by Dr. Robin Jeffrey, Deputy Chairman and Executive Director, North America, British Energy plc, 29 May 1998
  • Replacing Nuclear with Nuclear: A U.K. Perspective by Dr. Robin Jeffrey, Chairman, Bruce Power Inc., Executive Chairman, British Energy plc, 18 Oct 2001.

Other Energy History Links

  • “The Power in a Drop of Water” about Ontario’s Niagara Falls hydroelectric station, from the Children’s Treasure House, circa 1928
  • Niagara Falls – History of Power A comprehensive external site
  • Proving the Principle – A History of The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, 1949-1999, by Susan M. Stacy

CBC Archives
A fascinating collection of video and audio material on nuclear topics is available from the archives of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, available at   If this link fails, go to the CBC Archives and select “Science and Technology” on the side bar (also known as “Science and Innovation”), then “Candu: The Canadian Nuclear Reactor”.

The CANTEACH project is an AECL – CNS Universities Committee initiative, begun in January 2000, to produce technical educational material on CANDU reactors.    Many thanks to McMaster University Engineering Physics professor and CNS member Bill Garland for spearheading and maintaining this initiative.   There are six reports (PDF format), in the extensiveTechnical Documents Library, describing the evolutionary history of CANDU reactor systems:

  • “CANDU origins and Evolution”, paper in 5 parts, by Gordon L.Brooks and John S. Foster, CTTD-0003;
    • Part 1 of 5 – “An Overview of the Early CANDU Program, Prepared from information provided by John S. Foster”, by John S. Foster and Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, (50 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-01-r1. Summary: While the name ‘CANDU’ was not adopted until the 1960’s, the CANDU program can be considered to have started in early 1954. At that time, a team, called the Nuclear Power Group, was established to undertake studies intended to identify a potential Canadian nuclear power system. While the team operated under the auspices of AECL and was located in Building 456 at AECL’s Chalk River Laboratory, its membership was drawn from a cross-section of Canadian utility and industrial organizations supported, as required, with “nuclear” expertise provided by AECL staff.
    • Part 2 of 5 – “Why CANDU”, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, (30 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-02-r1 .Summary: This monograph is intended to answer, in simple terms, the question of “Why CANDU”; that is, why the CANDU nuclear power reactor is the way it is and why it differs from other commercially developed nuclear power reactors, particularly the light water type of reactors originally developed in the United States and now used in many countries.
    • Part 3 of 5 – “Figure of 8”, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, with note added by Daniel Meneley discussing the Darlington and CANDU 9 heat transport system, (30 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-03-r2. Summary: This monograph discusses the origins and early evolution of the basic “figure of 8” heat transport system arrangement that has been employed in most CANDU reactors to date.
    • Part 4 of 5 – “Emergency Core Cooling System”, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, (40 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-04-r1, . Summary: This monograph discusses the origins and evolution of the emergency core cooling systems provided for CANDU reactors.
    • Part 5 of 5 – “The Origin and Evolution of the Second Shutdown System “, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, 2001 February, (45 kB pdf), CTTD-0003-05-r1. Summary: The historical origins of the second shutdown system, as applied to Bruce-A and all subsequent CANDU reactors, are discussed in two parts. The first deals with the evolution of licensing requirements for a second shutdown system and the second deals with the origins of the fast liquid poison injection system chosen for the second shutdown system.
  • A Short History of the CANDU Nuclear Power System, prepared by Gordon L. Brooks, (150 kB pdf), CTTD-0010.Summary: This paper provides a short historical summary of the evolution of the CANDU nuclear power system with emphasis on the roles played by Ontario Hydro and private sector companies in Ontario in collaboration with Atomic Energy of Canada limited (AECL).