Instrument Precision represents nine months of research and focuses on two types of entities: twenty artifacts with Canadian manufacturing or design histories, and the people or companies that made them. 19 of the 20 artifacts are part of the Ingenium collections, the national collections of Canadian scientific and technological artifacts--you can explore the catalogue here. The remaining artifact belongs to a private collection of Canadian-manufactured scientific instruments.

Exploring the Site

The site is arranged in three exhibits which tell the stories of artifacts and makers in chronological order, from 1861 to the 1990s.

Additional information can be found by browsing "items", which offers a catalogue of 20 artifacts and 20 Canadian precision/scientific instrument makers/manufacturers, with additional makers also represented. This provides a snapshot of making in Canada from the mid-19th century to the 1990s.

Items appearing in Exhibits are linked through their entries.

You can also browse items through the map.


The history of Canadian precision manufacturing is incomplete. The information here is drawn from a wide array of sources, usually in a piecemeal fashion. These sources include company histories, city and industrial directories, trade literature, newspaper articles, trade magazines, archival-type material (e.g. photographs, personal accounts), and evidence drawn from artifacts. I’ve not been able to cite things to an academic standard, but have tried to indicate where I’ve gathered information for each history.

I have done my best to be accurate, but regularly discover errors. Available information can be contradictory or confusing, and it takes some time to unpick an order of events, or how companies relate to each other. In other cases, I’ve left things ambiguous on purpose. Where little information is available, errors occur easily—even a company’s own account of its history may be incorrect or contradictory with other information!

I encourage those interested to visit my list of types of resources that can help you to trace stories and check histories you find to be contradictory or suspect. Trust your instincts and check things where you can! I invite those who may have additional insight into these histories to get in contact.

Telling historical stories means making decisions. What qualifies as “manufacturing”? What does “precision” mean? What is an “instrument”? How can we organise the histories of companies? There are lots of different ways of answering these questions and I’ve provided detailed explanations of my metholodology here.

About the Author

The author and researcher of Instrument Precision is Victoria JL Fisher. During the research and writing of this resource, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ingenium Centre’s Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada. This project was kindly funded by Ingenium, and was initiated by Ingenium’s Curator of Physical Science and Medicine, David Pantalony.

Victoria Fisher has a MSc from Imperial College, London, and a PhD from the University of Toronto, both in the history of science. The vast majority of her research focuses on the history of science and science-adjacent technology in Canada.