Press coverage of the Society and its activities

Minutes from Montreal Meeting

Written by
Jim Ungrin
the North Renfrew Times
2021 Dec 08

The Society for the Preservation of Canada’s Nuclear Heritage Inc. has received an enormous volume of documentation over the past four years. In total, printed material equivalent to about 30 m of linear shelf space has been retained. Some of the rest has been returned to the donors as not suitable for our mission, some has been shredded because it is unsuitable for public disclosure and some has gone to recycling.

The earliest documents go back in time to the Montreal laboratory. One of these relates to a meeting held December 13, 1944. The document is the minutes of a “Discussion of Program of Nuclear Physics Experiments”. The minutes were five pages long and a note at the top states that only eight copies of these minutes, which were originally labelled “SECRET”, were initially made.

During the shifting of some filing cabinets in Bldg. 137 at CRNL several decades ago a copy (labeled copy 2) of the minutes, by then reclassified as “For Official Use Only”, came to light and several photocopies were made, some of which undoubtedly circulated widely within the CRN site. A digitized version was donated to the Society about a year ago and the Society has recently received clearance from AECL to discuss and display the document to the public.

The Chairman of the “Discussion” was J.D. Cockcroft. The other attendees, all Section Heads, were B. Kinsey, L. Kowarski, A.N. May, B. Pontecorvo, and B.W. Sargent. Alan Nunn May and Bruno Pontecorvo were later to be come infamous as convicted and suspected Russian spies, respectively.

The discussion covered a wide range of experiments mostly aimed at measuring the fission properties of various isotopes by neutrons of different energies. The isotopes in question are never directly named in the minutes but are instead given code numbers of 23, 13, 02, 39, 49, 25 and 28. Non-strategic materials such as beryllium, boron, aluminum, and stainless steel are listed by their usual names. During the discussion Cockcroft was actioned to supply details to Alun Mun May’s group of an experimental technique used at a location code-named “Y”.

The Society continues to welcome documents related to the past history of the nuclear industry. To donate, or even just to permit copying of the documents please contact the Society at