John A. Brashear (1840-1920), was a maker of astronomical telescopes and scientific instruments, popularizer of astronomy and university administrator. Brashear contributed much to the siting, design and fundraising for the Allegheny Observatory, and his firm constructed its 0.76-m refractor and 0.79-m Keeler reflector. He figured the 0.4-m photographic doublet with which Max Wolf discovered many minor planets. He also had connections with the Lowell Observatory, notably in the design and construction of a fast spectrograph that was ultimately used to record the first recessional velocities of galaxies, and through the provision of a 0.13-m objective used in Lowell's first search for a transneptunian planet.
Dr. and Mrs. Brashear spent later summers at their cottage on Urania Isle in Lake Muskoka, Ontario. Mrs. Brashear passed there in September 1910. The family's 48-foot steam launch Phoebe, named after Mrs. Brashear, has been restored and is on display at the Kingston Pump House Steam Museum, where it was originally built in 1914.
At the meeting of 1896-04-14, Upon the motion of Mr. Geo. E. Lumsden, seconded by Mr. J.R. Collins, Dr. Brashear was unanimously elected a corresponding member of the Astronomical and Physical Society of Toronto.
Dr. Brashear wrote back:
Allegheny, Pa., May 14, 1896.
To the President and Members of the Astronomical and Physical Society of Toronto.
Gentlemen: - Will you accept my best thanks for the pleasure you have given me in electing me as a corresponding member of your Society. It is always pleasant for one who has devoted the best part of his life to the work of a scientific character, to be associated with those who are earnestly working for the advancement of science, and helping to push onward the borders of human knowledge. I appreciate this membership among a people for whom I have always had a very warm place in my heart; I shall endeavour to be of some use to you, and not a "drone" in the busy hive.
With best wishes for your success, believe me,
Very cordially yours,
Jno. A. Brashear.
Dr. Brashear was elected an honorary fellow of the Toronto Astronomical Society on 1901-10-01, at the conclusion of a year in which his firm was contracted to finish the 38-cm and other optics for the new Dominion Observatory in Ottawa. The asteroid (5502) Brashear is dedicated to him.