Wilfred Templeman Oceanography

Pioneer in the scientific study of the Newfoundland fishery

The Story

Wilfred Templeman was born in 1908 in a family that had a 200-year history of working in fisheries. Moreover, almost everybody in his hometown worked in fisheries. Young Templeman also did some fishing with his father and relatives.

Templeman attended Memorial University College of Newfoundland for two years and then went to Dalhousie University. After graduation he was offered a scholarship by the Fisheries Research Board of Canada to work on lobsters. Templeman spent three years at St Andrew’s Biological Station in New Brunswick, Canada's oldest marine research laboratory. This work provided Templeman with thesis material for his doctorial degree.

The following couple of years Dr. Templeman taught zoology at McGill but in 1936 returned to Memorial University and headed the Department of Biology. During this tenure, he continued research on lobster, capelin, and dogfish at the government laboratory at Bay Bulls and later in St John’s.

In 1944 Dr. Templeman got a position as Director of the Newfoundland Fisheries Laboratory, which became the St John’s Biological Station of the Fisheries Research Board after Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949.

Dr. Templeman worked hard himself and expected his staff to follow. He focused his research on existing and potential commercial fish stock around Newfoundland and Labrador. He was also interested in new and scarce fish taken by trawlers. Dr. Templeman and his colleagues reported on the long-lining experiments that had introduced a new type of fishery to the Newfoundland economy.

Dr. Temleman retired as Director at St John’s in 1972 and was appointed first J.L. Paton Professor of Marine Biology and Fisheries at Memorial University. Later that year he received a Public Service Merit Award for high and constant achievements as a scientist, administrator, educator, and advisor to government and industry.

Dr. Templeman was a member of Fisheries and Oceans Research Advisory Council in 1981 – 85 and a member of the Royal Commission on Seals and the Sealing Industry in 1984 – 86. In addition, Dr. Templeman has authored over 250 papers on a variety of subjects from vitamin A in liver oils to the affect of the effects of fluctuations in ocean temperatures on marine animals. In 1982 a fisheries research ship was named in Wilfred Templeman’s honor.


Wilfred Templeman’s biography and professional life as a researcher, scientist, and educator, published in the special issue of the Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science

Dr. Templeman's short biography

Johnstone, K. 1977. The aquatic explorers: a history of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 139, 187-189.


The Person

Bonavista, Newfoundland
Date of Death
April 5, 1990
Place of Death
St John’s, Newfoundland
Family Members
  • Spouse: Eileen McGrath
  • BSc, (Biology), Dalhousie University, Halifax, 1930
  • MA, University of Toronto, 1931
  • PhD, University of Toronto, 1933
  • DSc <i>honoris causa</i>, Memorial University, Newfoundland, 1982
  • Member of the Royal Society of Canada, 1950
  • Order of the British Empire, 1948
Last Updated
January 4, 2012

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