University Archives & Special Collections, A-8643. (Patrick Hayes)

Linear Accelerator

The post-war period saw the University of Saskatchewan at the forefront of nuclear physics in Canada, and the Department of Physics had built for itself a reputation based on experimentation and innovation.

In 1948, Canada's first betatron — and the world’s first used in the treatment of cancer — was installed on campus. It was used for research programs in nuclear physics, radiation chemistry, cancer therapy and radiation biology.

Next, the world’s first non-commercial cobalt-60 therapy unit to treat was officially opened in 1951. With this unit research was undertaken in the areas of radiological physics, radiation chemistry and on the effects of high energy radiation on plants and animals.

 When the construction of the Linac was announced in the fall of 1961, it was portrayed as the next logical step on the university's research path.

The 80-foot electron accelerator tube was to create energy six times that of the betatron. The cost of the $1.75 million facility was split between the National Research Council and the University of Saskatchewan, with the NRC meeting the cost of the equipment and the University assuming the costs of the building.

The official opening in early November 1964 was more than just a few speeches and the cutting of a ribbon. It was a physics-fest, with 75 visiting scientist from around the world in attendance, presenting papers and giving lectures over several days.

The photo was taken at an open house on Nov. 8, 1964. Three eminent physicists were granted honorary degrees at the fall convocation and hundreds of people showed up for the public open house.

For three decades the Linac served the campus research community and was incorporated into the Canadian Light Source synchrotron.