Peter Millman Column

by Eric Briggs, Toronto Centre - with advice from Dr. Victor Gaizauskas

Peter Millman Peter Millman was the first Toronto astronomer to write a regular column in a local newspaper, as far as I know. He first contributed to the Toronto Star on 1940 May 18. By that time, he had been working for C. A. Chant at the David Dunlap Observatory since 1933, before its formal opening. Millman had also been on the observing committee of the RASC Toronto Centre since 1934, which was no coincidence since Chant was on the same committee. But, there was a war on, and when Millman enlisted in the RCAF it fell to Frank Hogg to correspond with the Star (Hogg had a heart condition that excused him from military service and shortened his lifespan.)

After the war, Millman joined the staff of the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa, and he was the president of the RASC Ottawa Centre from 1945 to 1950. In the early 1950s, after Frank Hogg had passed away and Helen Hogg was writing the Star’s astronomy column, Millman started another such column in a competing paper, the Toronto Telegram. The Telegram’s astronomy column was printed almost every Saturday from 1951 September 15 until 1967 October 21, and after that it was printed once monthly until 1971, April 24. The Telegram ceased production at Halloween 1971 and was “eclipsed”, becoming the Toronto Sun which is still a very popular paper.




It’s not clear how Millman was compensated for his newspaper work. Like Helen Hogg, he had other writing projects, and borrowed from his own work. His series of eight lectures popularizing astronomy for CBC Radio were published in book format in 1961 as This Universe of Space, illustrated with drawings he had previously, or would later print in the Telegram. We know Hogg’s columns were freelanced, but forty years after it folded, SunMedia Corp. which owns the old Telegram catalog cannot establish whether or not the author retained the rights to his material.

Unlike the Toronto Star, the Telegram archives are not kept online, so to look up a column you have to visit a central library with an extensive newspaper microfiche. Please browse these materials for your personal use only.

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Saturday, March 7, 2020 - 12:26pm