1850s-1886) was an American entomologist and naturalist who came to prominence during the
later half of the 19th century in Canada.
better known period of his life spans from the 1850s to 1886.
Effectively nothing is known of Couper's
early life, although it is speculated that he was born in Sheldon,
Vermont. He came to Canada and
established himself in Toronto likely
around 1843 (he later noted having lived there for 17 years, and
left the city in 1860). A conference by Henry Holmes Croft, a University
College teacher, spurred him into collecting his first
A few years later his collections of insects and
various related structures (nests, cocoons, galleries...) were
noticed and praised in The
, an interest he would maintain (1863 he
noted these collections to amount to 6 000 specimens). These
collections were prized in 1856. Although entomology
(particularly the former) were his
main interests, he was, like most scientists of the time, very
versatile. In addition to working as a typographer
, he owned a small shop were he sold
specimens and taxidermy
major publication was a description of 150 Canadian Coleoptera
around 1860 he moved to Quebec City.
There he initiated Léon Abel Provancher
entomology, and probably taught taxidermy to Charles-Eusèbe Dionne
. In 1863,
he was involved with the foundation of the Entomological Society of
, and a few years later, the affiliated society in
Quebec, in which Provancher, Louis-Ovide Brunet
and George John Bowles
were involved, amongst
others. That branch, however, only. lasted a few years.
residing there, he traveled to Côte-Nord and made the first detailed description of the
Those notes later served a number of other
scientists. He also described 15 new species of Coleoptera, a
number of which are still valid. In 1867, Henry J. Morgan
called him one of the first Canadian
entomologists in his Bibliotheca Canadensis
. Before moving to
Montreal in 1870, he spent a year (or three) in Ottawa, what
exactly he did is not known (possibly he studied spiders), but he
wrote several short papers in The Canadian Entomologist
during that period.
It was in to Montreal that he made his most important contribution
to Quebec entomology
by being the first
president of another affiliate of the Entomological Society of
Canada, which lasted to become the Entomological Society of
. He traveled several times more to Côte-Nord, once
having to return because his commissioned specimens were lost on
the way home, and later collected with Napoléon-Alexandre Comeau
1880 he started publishing The Canadian Sportsman and
, which would stay in publication for 3 years until
lack of time forced him to discontinue it. The Canadian
Sportsman and Naturalist
published articles on a wide array of
topics, from hunting to Canadian museum.
year Couper moved to Troy, in the
state of New
York, where he joined his son.
He would publish a
few more papers in American magazines and journals before his
death, probably ca.
1890. He was known to also have a
daughter, but the names of his children, or of their mother, are
Couper's work is little known, both because good chunks of his life
are left entirely in the dark and because many of is publications
have become exceedingly difficult to locate, particularly The
Canadian Sportsman and Naturalist
. His specimens have
also been scattered, the Lyman Museum of McGill
University owns many of his Coleoptera specimens, and a number
of moths. Laval also owns a large collection of insects and a
number of higher animals. Other naturalized specimens are scattered
between various institutions, from the Royal
Ontario Museum to the Smithsonian Institution.
He remained all his life an enthusiastic
promoter of entomology.