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Robert Wheelock Ells

Robert Wheelock Ells was employed as a geologist with the Geological Survey of Canada from 1872 until 1911. Early in his career at the Survey he was assigned the job of mapping parts of New Brunswick where he worked with Loring Bailey from the University of New Brunswick and George Matthew from Saint John. In 1881 Ells was working on the stratigraphy of northern New Brunswick and Gaspé when he encountered a specimen of cephalaspid fish in rocks now known as the Campbellton Formation. Only two years previous he had ‘re-discovered’ Devonian fish fossils across the river at Miguasha, where fossils were first described by Abraham Gesner in the 1830s. Ells’ discovery started a minor research frenzy that lasted for about two decades as paleontologists from Ottawa, London and Edinburgh all described new species of Devonian fish. Ells’ name occurs frequently in the history of New Brunswick geology from Geological Survey of Canada reports to ‘A history of New Brunswick Geology’ written in 1887.