Corresponding Member: Daniel K. Winder

During the American civil war, Andrew Elvins came in contact with Daniel K. Winder, who was an enthusiastic student of science. He had been a professor in an Ohio college (at or near Cleveland, likely Hygeia Female Athenaeum, part of a mid-century Utopian community near Cincinnati), but was a pacifist, being opposed to war under all circumstances, and also holding the view that the Bible tolerated slavery. Consequently, he found it very uncomfortable in Ohio and so came to Toronto, where he settled and obtained a living as a printer. He also preached for the Disciples of Christ, but as there were very few of that religious view in Canada, they could not employ a regular preacher. Mr. Winder was a good botanist, and while on pleasant walks he made Mr. Elvins acquainted with the various species of trees, and also introduced him to the use of mushrooms. Mr. Winder was the author of a book on the mushrooms of Canada. Besides this, he was well informed in astronomy and possessed a two-inch telescope. Mr. Elvins was allowed to use this and spent many pleasant hours with it.

Seemingly, Elvins always deferred to others with more formal education or higher social status. So it was that Daniel K. Winder was elected the first (and only) president of the Toronto Astronomical Club at its first meeting on December 1st, 1868. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ridgway, and Winder was elected upon the motion of Mr. Turnbull, seconded by Mr. Potter. Winder observed the solar eclipse of August 7th, 1869 from Hamilton, and also attended the Club's final minuted meeting on December 7th, 1869. His accomplishments included correspondences with Scientific American which began in October 1869, concerning aurora. Winder used his early spectroscope and polariscope to determine that the auroral light is not a reflection from polar ice (once a popular notion.)

Little is known about Winder, but RASC past president Peter Broughton revealed some new research on the subject (including the above details) in the Journal of the RASC in December 2008. Daniel Knode Winder was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1828, the son of Daniel Winder, a clergyman, and Catherine Knode.

During the years 1872-79, Winder served as assistant chaplain of the provincial lunatic asylum in Toronto.The Winder family moved in 1879 to Detroit, where Winder’s name appears in directories as a printer. He was well known in that city as an amateur astronomer, showing the transit of Venus to throngs of people in 1882, and setting up his telescope on pleasant evenings on the city’s Campus Martius. At the meeting of 1891-06-02, Mr. Elvins read a paper on the recent transit of Mercury of May 9th, contributed by Mr. Winder, Telluric Lines in the Spectrum of Mercury, although in hindsight Winder's observation of the spectral signature of water vapour in Mercury's atmosphere is doubtful. Mr. Winder passed away on November 1, 1897.

Mr. D. K. Winder of Detroit, Michigan, was elected a corresponding member of the Astronomical and Physical Society of Toronto on 1890-05-20. Beginning in 1892, his membership category was moved from 'corresponding' to 'associate'.

Title/Given Name: 
Mr. Daniel K.