Roy Sanders

You don’t know me Richard though we met a lifetime ago at Lake Pemichangan around 1957 when you were “knee high to a kipper.” I worked for your Dad when I first emigrated from the UK. My wife Joy and I have fond memories of how your Mum & Dad "took us under their wing" when we arrived at the National Research Council (NRC) in July 1957. They took us up to your cottage for a sample of Canadian hospitality.

Although my memory of events 60 years ago is at best pretty poor, I have put a few thoughts down on "paper” regarding your Dad’s work as a Research Scientist at NRC from the late 1950s to his retirement decades later.

I worked at NRC for 38 years.  When I first arrived from Britain I was assigned as Roy's technician and worked on a project of his.  He was working on the standard of light at the freezing point of platinum.  This involved melting platinum in an induction furnace and then comparing it at its freezing point to a standard tungsten lamp when it was defined as 1/60th of a candela. My job, along with turning a solid piece of platinum (probably worth thousands of dollars) into a tapered shape to fit the thorium holder, and collecting the shavings of platinum afterwards, was doing the “midnight shift” when the furnace had to be turned down slowly, a few degrees at a time over a period of a several days to determine the exact point of freezing at 1769°Celsius (2042°Kelvin).

In the late 1950s there was a minor palace revolution when NRC was re-organised and most of the old “Photometry & Colorimetry section of about a dozen scientists and technicians moved to a new boss Dr. Gunter Wyszecki when the section was renamed “Radiation Optics”. Your Dad elected to stay with the old section for a year or more before joining us. In the 1960s, Lester B. Pearson, our PM, was changing the old flag to the new Canadian Red Maple Leaf and NRC was heavily involved.  All of the new section spent many hours on the roof of the old NRC building on Sussex St assessing colour differences between standard colour swatches and the potential new candidates. About this time I became Dr. Wyzecki’s technician and Clarence Dodd became your Dad’s technician with responsibility for Spectrophotometry which measures the relative spectral reflectance of the flag colour and then converts the data into Chromaticity co-ordinates that are mandated by an Act of Parliament. 

My wife used to work at the library on St. Laurent Blvd. and remembers Roy dressing smartly in retirement in contrast to his appearance as “a boffin”* when at NRC!

I’m sure your Dad will be sorely missed by his friends and family -- he was a gentle and lovely man.

Best wishes

Graham and Joy Fielder

* Note by Richard: "Boffin" is a term, used almost exclusively in the UK, which was originally used during WWII to refer to the so-called "back room boys" who were, for example, operating top-secret technologies like RADAR, or trying to break Nazi Germany's enigma code. It is an affectionate term that has grown to mean any person engaged in scientific or technical research, or having some highly-specialised knowledge or a skill, that is generally considered to be complex, difficult or arcane. My Dad was definitely a boffin!