The James Hillier Foundation


August 22, 1915 – January 15, 2007

Dr. Hillier, the son of British immigrants, was one of Canada’s greatest scientists and inventors. He earned three degrees at the University of Toronto, a B.A. in mathematics and physics, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in physics. Later the University of Toronto awarded him an honorary D.Sc. He wrote over 150 papers on technical subjects and research management. He held 41 patents for his inventions and was awarded many honours and awards for his work.Dr. Hillier was recognized as an early pioneer in electron microscopy, having built the first successful instrument in North America. He designed the first mass-produced instrument and invented many techniques that extended the application of the electron microscope to a broad spectrum of sciences. The electron microscope has revolutionized science by increasing useful magnification to over 400,000 times from the earlier limit of 1,000 times, thus revealing all natural structures down to atoms. Dr. Hillier also invented electron microprobe analysis which added chemical analyses to electron microscope images.

Among the many benefits that Dr. Hillier’s microscopes have provided are numerous historic advances in medicine. There is no doubt that many people are alive today who would not be, were it not for Dr. Hillier’s inventions.

Dr. Hillier had a Brantford school named in his honour, and along with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, was named one of the early inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame which is now in Akron, Ohio.

Dr. Hillier was presented with an appointment to the Order of Canada on Nov. 5th, 1997 and he was inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame on Nov. 28th, 2002.