Series No. 2

The Flat Earth Society of Canada. -- 1970-93; predominant 1970-84. -- 96 cm of textual records and photographs: 3 b&w and 1 colour; 15.5 x 20 cm or smaller

Administrative history: The Flat Earth Society of Canada was organized at Fredericton, N.B. on 8 November 1970 by Leo Ferrari, Raymond Fraser, and Alden Nowlan. According to them, a prevailing problem of the new technological age was the willingness of people to accept theories "on blind faith and to reject the evidence of their own senses." To promote critical thinking, the society chose to dispute one thing that "scientific Western civilization" considers indisputable -- namely, that the earth is round. The organization, therefore, set as its primary aims: "to combat the fallacious deification of the circle," "to restore man's confidence in the validity of his own perceptions", and "to spearhead man's escape from his metaphysical and geometrical prison." "The earth is flat; any fool can see that" was adopted as the society's principal motto.

The society's long-serving president and primary promoter was Leo Ferrari, a philosophy professor at St. Thomas University. Other members of the executive included poet-novelist Raymond Fraser, writer Alden Nowlan, writer-educator Alphonsus J. Pittman, and poet-novelist Gwendolyn MacEwen. To boost membership and advance the cause of planoterrestrialism, the executive issued tractates (two by Nowlan), published a newsletter called The Official Chronicle (later an official organ, The Official Organ), and distributed promotional literature at public lectures and meetings of the Learned Societies of Canada.

Ferrari and Nowlan also promoted the society's aims more widely through television, radio, and the public press. They wrote articles, gave newspaper interviews, and appeared on television and radio programmes such as This Country in the Morning, Spectroscope, Take 30, W5, and Front Page Challenge. The publication of William Johnson's article about the organization in Saturday Review of the Sciences (May 1973) resulted in an influx of requests for membership, primarily from the United States. The same year the name of the organization was simplified to The Flat Earth Society to reflect its growing international appeal.

Generally, planoterrestrialists were drawn from among the well-educated -- computer scientists, university administrators, academics, lawyers, physicians, scientists, poets, and writers. They included such well-known figures as writer Farley Mowat, television personality Paul Soles, American novelist Lawrence Block, and poet Elizabeth Brewster. Associate membership was granted to persons "of integrity" who subscribed to the society's aims and submitted an essay giving their reasons for believing the earth was flat. After three years, associate members-in-good-standing were granted full membership status. In 1974, the society could boast approximately 100 members in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Planoterrestrialists waged an intellectual, often humorous "battle" against the "globularist heresy" for over a decade before fading from view in the mid-1980s.

Scope and content: This series documents the activities of The Flat Earth Society of Canada, later renamed simply The Flat Earth Society (FES), from its birth in November 1970 until its demise in the mid-1980s. More specifically, it highlights Ferrari's role as the society's spokesperson and long-serving president.

It includes correspondence, notes, membership records, financial records, newspaper clippings, photographs, and cartoons. In addition, the series contains copies of newsletters, tractates (statements of the society's views), and drafts of speeches as well as draft and published copies of articles about the society and its members. Also included are an unpublished manuscript, The Earth is Flat! An Exposé on the Globularist Hoax and a published copy of Ferrari's scholarly article "Feminism and Education in a Flat Earth Perspective" which appeared in McGill Journal of Education.

This series consists of 3 subseries: 1) administration, 2) publications and presentations, and 3) Flat Earth manuscript.

Subseries 1, administration contains correspondence between executive committee members as well as between the executive committee and the society's general membership. Letters discuss Flat Earth activities -- publication of newsletters and tractates, public lectures, television appearances, and radio interviews as well as personal news, articles about the society, and financial matters. Also included are financial statements, bank records, receipt books, invoices, reports of field trips, completed membership forms, membership certificates, membership lists, membership cards, requests for information, and numerous letters from individuals explaining why they wish to become "Flat Earthers".

Subseries 2, publications and presentations contains draft and published material about the society -- its views, its aims, its activities, and its members. Included are reference materials, draft articles, poems (one by Nowlan), copies of The Official Chronicle and The Official Organ, correspondence with printers and distributors, and letters requesting permission to print items in the newsletter/official organ. This subseries also contains copies of newspaper stories, tractates, drafts of addresses delivered by Ferrari, and three photographs of him speaking. A videotape entitled "In Search of the Edge", a matted print of Columbus's ships at "the edge", an audio tape of Ferrari speaking about the society, and cartoons dealing with the flat earth/round earth debate are also included.

Subseries 3, Flat Earth manuscript consists of drafts of Ferrari's unpublished manuscript, The Earth is Flat! An Exposé on the Globularist Hoax and his correspondence with various publishing houses.

File arrangement is random, as deposited.

Title based on content of series.

Artifacts relating to The Flat Earth Society are located in series 3, artifacts (The Flat Earth Society).

Series 2, Subseries No. 1


1. Constitution, 1970

2. Full Members, 1971-77 [correspondence, completed application forms, completed membership certificates, membership lists, article, report of field trip to "the edge"]

3. Associate Members, 1974; 1977-82 [applications for membership]

4. Correspondence, 1971-77 of FES Board of Governors

5-1 Members correspondence, 1972-78 [completed application forms and letters from individuals giving their reasons for believing that the earth is flat; includes one such letter from Farley Mowatt]

5-2 Members correspondence, 1972-78 [completed application forms etc.]

6-1 Members correspondence, 1970-84 [includes letters from individuals giving their reasons for believing that the earth is flat]

6-2 Members correspondence, 1970-84 [includes letters from individuals giving their reasons for believing that the earth is flat]

7. Applicants, 1974-75; 1986 [requests for information and memberships]

8. Applicants (hold), 1973-80 [requests for information and memberships]

9. Letters from processed applicants, 1973-77

10. Miscellaneous correspondence, 1971-93 [television appearances, newspaper articles, flat earth manuscript, memberships, invitations to functions]

11. Address labels [also includes copies of form letters]

12-1 Brochures sent I, 1974-75 [requests for information and other inquiries]

12-2 Brochures sent I, 1975-77 [requests for information and other inquiries]

12-3 Brochures sent I, 1977-84 [requests for information and other inquiries]

13. Brochures sent II, 1983 [correspondence primarily from school children]

14. School Replies, 1976-77; 1979-80

15. Renewals [of membership], 1977-78

16. H.H.G.A. [hope he goes away] 1973-78

17. Pledge forms, membership cards, application forms [blanks]

18-1 Finances [2 receipt books, 1971-73]

18-2 Finances [bank books, cheque book, deposit slips, statements]

18-3 Finances [notes, expenses, list of fees paid, financial statements]

19. Accounts [invoices, work orders, returned cheques]

20. Printing jobs [proofs, drafts of pamphlets and form letters, tractates 1-4 inclusive]

21. Advertising equipment [notes]

Series 2, Subseries No. 2
Publications and presentations


22. Originals - The Official Organ

23-1 The Official Organ - items for paper

23-2 The Official Organ - items for paper

24. Permissions [for use of material in] The Official Organ, 1973; 1977

25. Copy of newsletters and publications [includes pamphlets; tractates 2, 3 & 4; spring 1972 and fall 1973 issues of The Official Chronicle; and vol. 1, nos. 1, 2 & 3 of The Official Organ]


26. Articles by Ferrari [includes draft speech to Canadian Cartographic Association as well as articles by other members of FES]

27. Article by Ferrari, "Feminism and Education in a Flat Earth Perspective," McGill Journal of Education, vol. X, no. 1, Spring 1975, pp. 77-81 [created, published copy]

28. Over the Edge [draft copy, transparency, and other material relating to Ferrari's book of poetry]

29. Tape (reel-to-reel) of Ferrari speaking about FES, n.d. [created]

30. Articles [newspaper and magazine] about FES, 1973-81, n.d.

[includes booklet "The Earth is Flat" written and illustrated by John Kilburn for the Literacy Council of Fredericton, 1984]

31. Addresses [articles, quotes, and poems by members; includes one poem by Nowlan]

32. Address delivered by Ferrari at International Symposium on Problems Related to the Redefinition of North American Geodetic Networks," May 1974 [created]

33-1 Talks [pen sketch of Ferrari, newspaper clippings, speech notes, and copies of addresses delivered to Canadian Cartographic Association, to NBEPC 25 Year Club, and to EPA Stewardesses, 30 April 1973]

33-2 Talks [includes programmes, pamphlets, correspondence]

34. Talks, 1977 Learned Society [includes correspondence and posters]

35-1 Literary References

35-2 Literary References

35-3 Literary References

36-1 Cartoons and articles about round or flat [contains cartoons]

36-2 Cartoons and articles about round or flat [contains newspaper, magazine, and journal articles]

36-3 Cartoons and articles about round or flat [contains photocopy of published manuscript, Earth Not a Globe]

36-4 Cartoons and articles about round or flat [contains articles relating to both International and English Flat Earth Societies]

36-5 Cartoons and articles about round or flat [contains matted print of Columbus's ships at the "edge" of the world: 19 x 17 cm]

37. Round or flat TV programme [notes]

38. Publishables [draft articles and copies of published articles about FES, completed application forms, and supporting letters]

39. Articles by Flat Earthers supporting their position [created]

40. "A View from the Edge" - film proposal by Scott Barrie dated 8 January 1986 [includes correspondence dated 1977, some with National Film Board]

41. "In Search of the Edge" - VHS videotape

42. Quotes [for publications]

43-1 Permissions [respecting publications]

43-2 Permissions [includes transparency of satellite photo of North and South America and 1 b&w photograph of Sydney Opera House / 1973 / Australian Information Service; 15.5 x 20 cm]

44. Distributors/printers [correspondence]

45-1 Display case material [newspaper clippings and articles]

45-2 Display case material [cartoons and sketches]

45-3 Display case material [issues of The Official Organ, membership cards, notes, letters]

46-1 Media [cartoons and correspondence]

46-2 Media [articles, newsletters, newspaper clippings]

46-3 Media [3 b&w head and shoulder photographs of Ferrari speaking / n.d. / Paul Soucy photographs; 16 x 11 cm]

47. Transparencies [20 of cartoons and drawings]

Series 2, Subseries No. 3
Flat Earth manuscript


48. The Earth is Flat! [early partial draft]

49. The Earth is Flat! An Exposé on the Globularist Hoax [early draft]

50. The Earth is Flat! An Exposé on the Globularist Hoax [original manuscript]

51. The Earth is Flat! An Exposé on the Globularist Hoax [manuscript]

52. The Earth is Flat! An Exposé on the Globularist Hoax [manuscript]

53. The Earth is Flat! An Exposé on the Globularist Hoax [manuscript]

54. The Earth is Flat! An Exposé on the Globularist Hoax [partial draft]

55. Photograph - Leo's Outhouse : colour / photographer unknown; 8.5 x 11 cm

56-1 Correspondence, 1976-77 [with publishing houses]

56-2 Correspondence, 1976-77 [with publishing houses]

56-3 Correspondence, 1976-77 [with publishing houses]

57-1 Correspondence, 1978-79 [with publishing houses; includes copies of a portion of the manuscript, The Earth is Flat!]

57-2 Correspondence, 1978-79 [with publishing houses; includes notes and an address about the FES in French]

57-3 Correspondence, 1978-79 [with publishing houses]

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Last Update: 10/01/00