Clarkson, Ralph P.

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Clarkson, Ralph P.

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Ralph P. Clarkson graduated from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and what would now be considered a minor in Mechanical Engineering. He then spent one year teaching at the University of Vermont before becoming the Assistant Examiner for the U. S. Patent Office, as well as the electrical engineering expert for the United States. Eventually admitted to the bar as a registered patent attorney, Clarkson was widely published in such journals as Scientific American, Electrical World, American Machinist, Horseless Age, Automobile Topics, and The Independent of New York. Clarkson was also involved in the development of experimental machinery for various organizations, but in 1912, he left the U. S. in order to come to Wolfville, N. S. and accept a position as the Ivan Curry Professor of Engineering at Acadia University – a position that he held until 1917. While at Acadia, Clarkson did not pursue a life of pure academia. Instead, he became involved in the scheme to create a power plant that would utilize the tides of the Bay of Fundy to generate electricity, and in 1916, he became the Vice-President and Managing Director of the Cape Split Development Company. However, this was not to be the only role he played in the scheme. Clarkson invented and patented a hydraulic current motor that came to be known as the Clarkson Current Motor. It was to be used in the proposed power plant. The patents for this motor were granted to the International Stream Flow Turbine Company, Ltd., of which Clarkson was the President. Clarkson later assigned half of his rights in the patent to the Cape Split Development Company. A prototype of the motor was tested first in Pennsylvania and later in the Gaspereau River near Wolfville, NS. In both instances the tests proved the motor to be highly efficient. Ultimately the Cape Split Development Company was unable to follow through on its scheme due to a lack of capital and the company was wound up in 1929. The prototype of the motor was stored at Acadia University, in University Hall where it burned in the 1920 fire that destroyed that building.


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Cape Split Development Company (1916-1957)

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Cape Split Development Company

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Clarkson, Ralph P.

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Vice-President and Managing Director.

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Acadia University Archives

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