Spinks, John William Tranter (1908- 97)

John Spinks.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-B5723

Spinks, John William Tranter (1908–97). Born in Norfolk, England on January 1, 1908, Spinks was educated in England and then immigrated to Canada in 1930 to work at the University of Saskatchewan. In the hard economic times of the early 1930s, the university offered him and other young academics the choice of a $500 stipend for the academic year, or resignation. He took his stipend to Darmstadt, Germany and the laboratory of Dr. Gerhard Herzberg. In 1935, Dr. Spinks returned to Canada and arranged the invitation for Dr. Herzberg to join the staff at the University of Saskatchewan. Herzberg thus joined the exodus of Jewish scientists to other Western countries after the establishment of the Nazi government in Germany. Spinks continued his research on atomic energy, including the effects of radiation from radioactive isotopes on organisms. He was the president of the university from 1959 to 1975, during which time (the post-Sputnik period) it greatly increased its scientific research activities. He also presided over the growth of the Regina campus of the university and its evolution to a separate institution. He was honoured as an excellent teacher, as well as an imaginative researcher and concerned administrator. He received numerous honours, including Companion of the Order of Canada in 1970 and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1996. Spinks died in Saskatoon on March 27, 1997.

Diane Secoy