Fonds PR-2310 - John Mar fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

John Mar fonds

General material designation

  • textual record
  • moving images
  • graphic material
  • multiple media

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

Level of description


Reference code


Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1882-2012 (Creation)
    Mar, John

Physical description area

Physical description

66 cm of textual records and other material

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

John Mar was born in Victoria, British Columbia in St. Joseph's Hospital on December 30, 1932. His father, Mar Tim Shun was born in Canton, Hang San, China on November 30, 1891 and came to Canada in 1912. His mother, Loretta Sue Mar Sen, was born in Canton and emigrated to Canada in 1914. The couple married in Victoria in 1923.

The Mar family moved to Port Alberni when John was a child. He attended Eight Avenue Elementary School from 1940 to 1946 and the Alberni District Secondary School where he graduated in the spring of 1951. In the fall of 1951, he enrolled in the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Engineering as a candidate for the Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering and received his degree with distinction in May 1956. In his first years at University, Mar spent his summers logging on Vancouver Island to pay for tuition. He later won a position as a summer student working for the Department of National Defence (DND). As a student working for DND Mar worked in labs in Churchill, Manitoba where one of his first significant assignments was to design the first colour camera capable of photographing the Northern Lights.

By the time Mar finished his degree he had a full scholarship and a researcher's position with Canada's military. After graduation he spent two years in Esquimalt, BC for Canada's Naval Labs before being reassigned to Val Cartier, Qu├ębec where he worked on defense systems; specifically military ballistics and anti-tank penetration artillery. During this period Mar also worked on the East Coast where he worked on testing naval defence systems on ships and submarines with sonar and torpedo systems. This work also involved the American military.

Mar moved on to the Canadian space program in 1959 when the Department of National Defence assembled a group of scientists to work on satellite communications. Mar was integrally involved as the lead engineer for mechanical engineering in the design of Canada's first satellites, the Alouette I and II. During this work Mar coordinated with staff of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He worked in West Virginia's Space Program, the Kennedy Space Center, and Vandenburg Air Force Base, California where he assisted in the launch of Alouette I.

In 1965 John Mar completed Master of Engineering course credits at Carleton University. Among his engineering accomplishments, he lists five patents and 65 publications. In 1970 his engineering work won him an Inventor Award from the Canadian Patents and Development Corporation. In 1971 he won a NASA Group Achievement Award, and in 1987 he received a Government of Canada Award for his work on Alouette I. After twelve years in the space program, Mar was selected as the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Vice-Chief of Defence Staff for DND. He concentrated on research into long range techniques to rescue aircraft in Canada's north.

During his career Mr. Mar worked for eight different departments of federal government. After service in Canada's space program, he moved to Edmonton where he worked as the Regional Director for the Environmental Protection Centre of Environment Canada. His area of responsibility covered all three Prairie Provinces and the Northwest Territories. He followed this career position with a move to Yellowknife where he was the Federal Coordinator of the Norman Wells Project for Indian and Northern Affairs (DIAND). From this position he moved to Whitehorse as the Regional Director for Health and Welfare Services Branch, Canada where he was responsible for all health care in the Yukon including the management of four hospitals and several dozen nursing stations. While living in Whitehorse, Mar and his wife Irene started a management consulting business working with the public sector in all levels of government. They also worked and taught for eight years at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

On October 31, 1991 John Mar took early retirement from his senior executive position with the federal government in the Yukon and moved to Victoria. He died there on September 9, 2004.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records created by John Mar that document both his professional and private life. Mar's professional work is documented in his research notes and other public records of his work on the Canadian Alouette Satellite program. Of particular value is a laboratory notebook Mar kept, with photographs documenting his research on the Allouette Satellite Program. There are also two 16 mm films and one video cassette concerning the creation and launch of Canadian satellites and three video cassettes relating to his time working on the Norman Wells pipeline.

Mar's private life is represented by a significant genealogy of the Mar family reaching back centuries. There is also a small volume of personal correspondence with immediate family members and other records.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Records donated by Jack Mar (brother of John Mar) in 2012.


Language of material

Script of material

Language and script note

Some material is in Chinese.

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions.
Conservation restriction: Some AV and graphic material is in cold storage.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Third party copyright may apply to film, video, publications and some photographs.

Finding aids

See series descriptions for more information.

Associated materials

Related materials


General note

Accession number(s): 2012.296.

Physical description

Includes 323 photographs, 8 video cassettes and 2 film reels

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres