Charles Gordon Hewitt

Charles Gordon Hewitt, administrator, economic entomologist, conservationist (born 23 February 1885 in Macclesfield, England; died 29 February 1920 in Ottawa, ON). Charles Gordon Hewitt was an expert on houseflies who served as Canada’s Dominion entomologist from 1909 until his death. He played an important role in expanding the government’s entomology branch, as well as in passing the Destructive Insect and Pest Act (1910).

Charles Gordon Hewitt

(courtesy Natural History/Wikimedia CC)

Early Life and Education

Charles Gordon Hewitt was born to Thomas Henry Hewitt and Rachel Frost in Macclesfield, England. He studied zoology at the Victoria University of Manchester, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1902, his master’s in 1903 and his doctorate in 1909. His doctoral thesis on the life cycle of houseflies was considered pioneering research at the time. Hewitt became an assistant lecturer in zoology at the university in 1902.

Career

In 1906, the Victoria University of Manchester opened a department of economic zoology (the study of how insects and animals either benefit or hinder humans, particularly in terms of money). Charles Gordon Hewitt was one of the department’s first lecturers.

In 1909, at the age of 24, Hewitt was appointed Canada's second Dominion entomologist, a position he held until his death. In 1916, he was appointed consulting zoologist to the Canadian Commission of Conservation.

Personal Life

Charles Gordon Hewitt married Elizabeth Borden on 11 October 1911, in Canning, Nova Scotia. The couple had no children. On 29 February 1920, Hewitt died of pneumonia, just six days after his 35th birthday.

Legacy

Charles Gordon Hewitt was instrumental in the passing of the Destructive Insect and Pest Act in 1910. As Dominion entomologist, he expanded the entomological services of the federal Department of Agriculture, creating separate units, each headed by an entomologist, to deal with topics such as field, garden, forest and foreign insects. Also in this role, he established regional laboratories to study insect pests and devise controls. As a conservationist, he was successful in furthering the Canada-US treaty for the protection of migratory birds. Over his lifetime, he published several books, including The house fly, Musca domestica, Linnæus: a study of its structure, development, bionomics and economy (1910) and The conservation of the wild life of Canada (1921), as well as annual entomological reports and many newsletters and bulletins.