Traverse Tables - James B. Brow

James B. Brow

Other Scholars in Prince of Wales College


James B. Brow (1898-1977)

James Barrett Brow was born on 1 July 1898 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He was the son of Edith and Ephraim Riggs Brow. He had an older brother, George Raymond Brow, and a sister, Edith Bernice Brow (Nan), who remained a spinster and lived with her brother, in Charlottetown, well into their senior years. In fact they can both be found in the Canada Voter's List for 1974, living at 80 McGill Avenue in Charlottetown PEI.

All three siblings were highly educated. Oldest child, G. Raymond Brow, studied medicine at McGill University. He eventually became physician to Canada's Prime Minister, William Lyon MacKenzie King, and a professor of medicine at McGill University.

Nan studied Art at the New York School of Fine Art in Paris, France (Charlottetown Guardian, 1 March 1926, p.5).

James studied Engineering at McGill University, in Montreal. In the 1921-22 school year he was a graduate student and was awarded the Harrington Research Fellow in the Department of Mining Engineering.

In the 12 May 1921 edition of the Charlottetown Guardian the following announcement occurred:

Successful P.E.I. Student
The results of the examinations at McGill show that Mr. James Barrett Brow, of Charlottetown, passed in mining engineering, winning honours in Ore Deposits and Economic Geology.

He returned to PEI directly after graduation and became a substitute teacher at the Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown.

The December 1923 edition of College Times (page 7) reads:

During Professor Bennett’s absence, Mr. James Brow has conducted the classes in Physics in a clear and precise manner. Mr. Brow is a graduate in Engineering of McGill University, and it is indeed fortunate that such an excellent instructor was available. Mr. Brow has already made himself popular with all his classes.

The following year James Brow ceased to be a substitute teacher and was hired in a permanent position.

There is a clever little story about James, as a teacher, in the College Times, December 1931:

Professor Brow had been delivering a lecture on the value of being observant. He then asked several members of the class if they knew how many steps there were at the front entrance to the College building. Nobody knew. Mr. Brow then said, “You have been coming in and going out of this building for several weeks and haven’t yet noticed those steps. You better keep awake or you will break your neck on them someday”. One ambitious youth ventured, “How many are there, Sir?” Mr. Brow: “Well- er- I don’t know!"

By the early 1950’s James, still a professor of physics, was also the Vice Principal of the College. He was also known to have an outstanding knowledge of horticulture.

James Barrett Brow died in 1977 and is buried at St. Peter’s Cathedral Cemetery in Charlottetown.

UPEI Provenance Collection holds three of Professor Brow's books, Traverse Tables: For the Use of Surveyors and Engineersby Richard Lloyd Gurden, and A Short History of Atomism by J.G. Gregory. Both are signed “Jas. B. Brow" with the second dated July 1931. Also the book, The Newer Alchemy by Lord Rutherford is signed “J. B. Brow".


1901 Census of Canada. Census Place: Charlottetown (City/Cité), Queen's (west/ouest), Prince Edward Island; Page: 16; Family No: 152

Baptismal Record, Prince Edward Island Record Office.

College Times, December 1923, page 7.

College Times, December 1931

1974 Voter's Lists, Hillsborough PEI. Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935–1980. R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B). Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

“Successful P.E.I. Student", Charlottetown Guardian,, pg.6.

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