Dr. George Mercer Dawson FRS CMG, was a Canadian scientist and surveyor. He was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia, the eldest son of Sir John William Dawson, Principal of McGill University and his wife, Lady Margaret Dawson. By age 11, he was afflicted with tuberculosis of the spine that resulted in a deformed back and stunted his growth. However, his physical limitations did not deter Dawson from becoming one of Canada's greatest scientists.
Tutors and his father provided his educational needs during his slow recovery from the illness. Dawson later attended the High School of Montreal and McGill University before moving to London to study geology and paleontology at the Royal School of Mines beginning in 1869. Dawson graduated after three years with the highest marks in his class. Dawson received an LL.D. from Queen's University in 1890 and then from McGill University in 1891.
Dawson began his career in the 1870s as a professor of chemistry at Morrin College in Quebec City. He then performed extensive surveys of Western Canada in the 19th century beginning with the International Boundary Survey from 1872 to 1876. The result was a 387-page report called Geology and Resources of the Region in the Vicinity of the 49th parallel from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains, with Lists of Plants and Animals Collected, and Notes on the Fossils from the Killadeer Badlands currently part of Grasslands National Park. This report established Dawson as a respected scientist.