University Archives & Special Collections, MG 69. (Patrick Hayes)

Thomas Clifford "Van" Vanterpool

Thomas “Van” Vanterpool, who joined the university’s Department of Biology in 1928, brought a reputation as an outstanding athlete.

Born in Saba, Netherlands West Indies, on April 22, 1898, he took his early education at Harrison College, Barbados, obtaining the Oxford and Cambridge Higher School Certificate in Science in 1916.

The school in Barbados was modelled on the English Public School with its emphasis on sports. He excelled at cricket, soccer and track.

After two years as Overseer on a sugar plantation, he entered McGill’s MacDonald College, graduating in 1923 with a B.Sc. and earning a M.Sc. in 1925. In Montreal he represented McGill in track, basketball and baseball.

At the University of Saskatchewan where he spent the remainder of his professional life, Vanterpool did considerable research on browning root rot of cereals, a disease that caused large crop losses in 1928, 1933, and 1939.

He identified the causal organisms and showed how the disease could be controlled. He also pioneered research on the diseases of oilseed crops on the prairies, and taught courses in plant physiology, botany, and plant pathology and mycology.

In 1968 Vanterpool earned the first Doctor of Science Degree awarded by the U of S. He died in Victoria, B.C., on Jan. 15, 1984.  

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