W. Jack Christie Graduate Scholarship in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Jack Christie

William John “Jack” Christie was born in Toronto in 1931 and as a child, animals of all kinds fascinated him: aquaria, terrariums and cages abounded in the parental home. Jack Christie entered the University of Toronto in 1950 and came under the influence of Professors F.E.J. Fry and L. Butler. Jack completed his M.Sc. degree on “The Bass Fishery of Lake Opeongo” in 1957, an insightful review of the history of bass in the area, plus an analysis of the population dynamics of a species at the northern limit of his range. This was a seminal study, stimulating a long-term interest in the smallmouth bass of Lake Opeongo by the Ministry of Natural Resources. He was employed immediately by the then Department of Lands and Forests as a fisheries biologist. His association with the Glenora Research Station spanned four decades.

Jack Christie tackled a remarkable variety of fisheries problems for the Ministry. He was able to demonstrate that the stocking of whitefish fry into Lake Ontario, which had been going on almost every year from 1882 to 1954 was having no detectable effect on the fishery. Jack wrote extensively on changes in the fish communities of the Great lakes, most especially in relation to species introductions, exploitation and eutrophication. He was interested in Pacific salmon and explored the potential for successful introductions of Oncorhynschus masou and O. rhodurus. Jack also wrote extensively on the short-term effects of weather and the long-term effects of climate (temperature in particular) on fish populations. One of his major papers related whitefish recruitment to weather.

Jack Christie was one of a series of Great Lakes biologists who took a holistic view of the lakes – seeing the lakes as integrated communities rather than a collection of populations that functioned, and could be managed, independently. Jack wrote of “harmonic communities” and on the variability in populations of freshwater fishes associated with dominant year classes. He also had diverse professional involvements such as the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and as organizer of the International Symposium on Stocks Assessment and Yield Prediction.

W.J. “Jack” Christie retired in 1990 but worked tirelessly thereafter until his death in January 1997.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission honoured Jack when it created the Jack Christie/Ken Loftus Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions toward Understanding Healthy Great Lakes Ecosystems.