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Walter F. Ferrier
(1865-1950)

Walter Frederick Ferrier was born in Quebec, Canada in January of 1865, the son of Sarah Carr Bullock and James Ferrier, a "manufacturer." He graduated from McGill University in Montreal in 1887 with a degree in Mining Engineering. Minerals interested him even as a young boy, and at the age of nine he was admitted to membership in the Mineral Section of the Natural History Society of Montreal. While a student at McGill he carried on a correspondence with many prominent mineralogists, exchanging specimens and building his mineral collection. Following graduation he did postgraduate work at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and returned to take a position as assistant geologist with the New Jersey Geological Survey. He also helped arrange the mineral collection of Thomas Alva Edison in Orange, New Jersey, and became well acquainted with George F. Kunz, the distinguished mineralogist and gem consultant to Tiffany's in New York. When Ferrier proposed to his fiance, Josephine Alfreda Passella Holt, he presented her with a Tiffany diamond selected for him by Kunz. Walter and Josephine married in Toronto in 1889 and had two children: Dorothy (1892) and Douglas (1894)

Ferrier next served as a lithologist for the Geological Survey of Canada, then embarked on a career as an independent geological consultant and mining engineer, while continuing to build his increasingly important mineral collection. The collection eventually became too large to be stored in his house, so in 1912 he agreed to donate 3,600 specimens to establish a systematic collection for the University of Toronto; the following year it was transferred to the Royal Ontario Museum. Shortly thereafter he donated a similar collection of over 7,000 specimens to the Redpath Museum at McGill University, his alma mater. He also corresponded and traded with Washington A. Roebling (q.v.), whose collection later went to the Smithsonian Institution. Several hundred specimens were also acquired from Ferrier by Prof. Charles Palache for the Harvard Mineralogical Museum.

Ferrier was commissioned to build and arrange two large academic collections of minerals, one for the University of Alberta at Edmonton (in 1914-1915) and one for the Museum of Mineralogy and Economic Geology at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg (in 1921-1922). During World War I he worked for the Munitions Resource Commission of the Canadian Government, prospecting for deposits of strategic minerals, during which time he discovered the previously unknown zeolite mineral that was ultimately named ferrierite in his honor in 1918 (the original species has since been subdivided into three species: ferrierite-K, ferrierite-Na, and ferrierite-Mg). Although he ostensibly retired in 1925, he continued to consult on the revision and rearrangement of the Canadian National Mineral Collection until 1928.

Reference:
STEVENSON, L.S. (1972) Walter F. Ferrier and the Ferrier mineral collections. Mineralogical Record, 3, 232-234.
Toronto marriages 1889, Rootsweb.com
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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