Scientific Biography of W.B.Lewis: the man behind CANDU and ING

Eric Fawcett fawcett at
Wed Aug 23 10:58:49 CDT 1995

SPECIAL OFFER: cost including surface mail
               US$25 in North America
               US$28 (or equivalent) elsewhere
Send money order to Prof Eric Fawcett, Physics Dept.,
                    University of Toronto,
                    Toronto, M5N 1X5, Canada.

and e-mail your intent to fawcett at


The Scientific Biography of Wilfrid Bennett Lewis.


NUCLEAR PURSUITS is the scientific biography of Wilfrid Bennett Lewis, the 
physicist who dominated nuclear research and the development of nuclear power 
in Canada for nearly three decades, from the end of World War II until his 
retirement in 1973.  The development of the CANDU reactor was his most 
stunning achievement.

Born in England in 1908, Lewis earned a doctorate at Cavendish Laboratory in 
1934 and continued his research on nuclear physics there until 1939. During 
the war he worked on the development of radar and in 1945 became chief 
superintendent of the Telecommunications Research Establishement at Malvern. 
 A year later he agreed to head Canada's fledgling nuclear research facility 
at Chalk River, Ontario, where he made his professional home for the next 
twenty-seven years.

Lewis's drive, intelligence, and remarkable organizational skills placed him 
at the forefront of Canada's nuclear program.  Convinced that nuclear energy 
could be used economically for generating electricity, Lewis fostered a 
collaboration between Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and Ontario 
Hydro that led to the development of the CANDU reactor.  CANDU has proven to 
be an efficient reactor whose performance compares very favourably with all 
other power reactors around the world.  Lewis's efforts in developing this 
design, and his effective support of a strong tradition of basic reasearch, 
are his most important legacies.  Under his guidance, scientists at AECL 
achieved excellence in a number of fields and the laboratories have 
maintained those standards to the present.

Though not every project he promoted came to fruition, in particular 
the Intense Neutron Generator, and he seemed never to recognize the political 
aspects of the nuclear energy program, Lewis's influence on the development 
of science, technology, and industry in Canada and abroad was unique and 
profound.  His story sheds new light on Canada's postwar science history, 
debates concerning national science policy, and growing international 
scientific collaborations.  NUCLEAR PURSUITS will be of interest to a wide 
audience, including scientists, engineers, historians of science and industry,
and students of postwar Canadian history.

"The life and career of W.B. Lewis is very much a part of the history of 
science during an exciting age ... The biography is interesting, easy to 
read, and instructive to the younger generation of scientists and engineers." 
H.G. Thode, Department of Chemistry, McMaster University.

RUTH FAWCETT is a Research Officer in the Research Branch of the Library of 

June    240 pp  6 x 9   Illustrated
cloth   ISBN 0-7735-1186-5   CAN$37.95 = US$28

Return-Path: <owner-neutron at>
Sender: owner-neutron at
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 23:23:21 -0400
Reply-To: Eric Fawcett <fawcett at>

More information about the Neutron mailing list