Forgotten will could save Dunlap contents

    TORONTO, July 23 /CNW/ - Yesterday the Board of Governors of The
University of Toronto received a legal request asking that the historic
contents of The David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill remain in place and
any recent removals of scientific equipment, historic and cultural artifacts
including furniture, paintings, books, photo albums and other documents be
    Under a long forgotten 1948 will, Dr. Mary Robertson, accessed a
provision of her grandfather's estate, forcing the University to "listen
cordially and carefully" to her desire to protect the Observatory's contents.
Dr. Robertson is one of the surviving granddaughter's of Clarence A. Chant,
creator of the Observatory which opened to great fanfare in 1935.
    Dr. Robertson said, "I am deeply distressed that they are taking the
contents out. This is morally reprehensible, and all of these contents should
be returned. My grandfather was not only the engineer of this remarkable
vision, and, he gave them a lot of money in the process, virtually his entire
    After hearing about local community groups efforts to save the
Observatory buildings, contents and surrounding parkland, Dr. Robertson toured
the Observatory campus in June. She was impressed with its museum-like
quality. Issues surrounding the protection of the Dunlap campus are before the
Conservation Review Board of Ontario. The University appears to be in contempt
with its deliberate removal of the Dunlap contents, prior to the Board's
hearing sometime this fall.
    Dr. Robertson has a clear memory of the opening of the Observatory May
31st, 1935, sitting after the ceremony with MacKenzie King and her grandfather
in his Observatory residence, Elm's Lea.
    "Remarkably little about the Observatory's workings has changed since
that day. The greatest difference with the property is the lush mature
arboretum. When I arrived for my tour I was fortunate to be greeted by a deer
and her twin fawns - it was as if I was being welcomed back."
    Dr. Robertson only recently discovered her grandfather provided for this
exceptional opportunity in his will. He ensured if at any time any of his
children or grandchildren were "anxious to undertake a project requiring
help", they could legitimately appeal to the University for support.
    Dr. Robertson said, "It is now my express desire to take on a project to
ensure all the contents of The David Dunlap Observatory buildings remain in
situ and any and all materials recently removed by the University properly
belonging at the Observatory and related buildings, be returned."

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Karen, (416) 990-6694,

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