Monday, May 7, 2018
I'm very glad to announce that my portraits of Canadian women in STEM will be part of the Curiosty Collider's show Interstitial: Science Innovations by Canadian Women in this June in Vancouver! More information to come ....but B.C. friends, mark your calendars:
Industry Preview: June 7, 2018 from 11 am to 6 pm
OPENING NIGHT: June 8, 2018 from 7 pm to 2 am
The exhibit will be otherwise open from 11 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Saturday until June 22 at The Beaumont Studios gallery spaces, located at 316/326 West 5th Street, Vancouver, BC, V5Y 1J0.
Thursday, May 3, 2018
|Alice Wilson, linocut on collaged washi papers, 11" x 14" by Ele Willoughby, 2018|
Geologist and paleontologist Alice Wilson (1881-1964) was outdoorsy as a girl. Her family spent its summers canoeing, camping and collecting fossils in the limestone formations near their home in Coburg, Ontario. The Wilsons valued scholarship and science. Her father was a professor of classics at the University of Toronto. She went to the University of Toronto to study modern languages and history, as preparation for one of the few career options for women: teaching. But her ill health prevented her from finishing her degree and she withdrew in her final year. When she recovered, she decided to pursue her fossil collecting first love, got a job in the Mineralogy Division of the University of Toronto Museum, and found an entry into her career in geology.
Then in 1909 she got a job as a museum assistant with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), in Ottawa, where she would work until 1946 and then maintain an office as an emeritus scientist until shortly before her death in 1964. She was supervised by the GSC's chief paleontologist Percy Raymond and catalogued and labelled the invertebrate paleontology collections. Raymond encouraged her to complete her undergraduate degree, which she succeeded in doing in 1911, after which she was offered a permanent position with the survey - the first woman to hold a professional position there. Alice Wilson became the first female geologist in Canada, facing a series of roadblocks due to her sex. She had to fight for the right to do fieldwork, arguing to superiors that "with reference to further field work of the more strenuous type, I would like to point out that while not heavily built, I am muscularly very strong, and from earliest childhood have been accustomed to an out-of-door life both with canoe and tramping." Since she was forbidden to stay in remote field sites with male colleagues, she made a case that she could work alone during day trips which she made on foot or bicycle. Denied access to a government field vehicle provided to men she later used her own car. The GSC otherwise barred women from fieldwork until 1970.
Her research interests focused on fossil invertebrates from the Paleozoic era (252–541 million years ago) from across Canada, and from the Ordovician era (444–485 million years ago) in her own backyard in Ontario and Quebec as well as Ordovician fauna from the Rockies and Arctic. She studied stratigraphy in Ontario and Quebec. Over the course of 50 years, she became an authority on fossils and rocks of the Ottawa - St. Lawrence Valley, as a direct response to the sexist limitations placed upon her. Her studies of the geology and paleontology around Cornwall, Ontario were vital to the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. She covered more than 16,000 square kilometers despite ill health, frail constitution and the limitations placed upon her.
(courtesy Natural Resources Canada/Photo number 165185-A)
I’ve shown her with one of her geological maps of the Ottawa region, published at the official "end" of her career just before she retired, which was for her another beginning. Her publication in 1946, 'Geology of the Ottawa - St. Lawrence Lowland, Ontario and Quebec' was the first the first major geological publication about the region and we owe our knowledge of the area's geology and economic resources including building stone, sand, gravel, and drinking water to Wilson.
Alice Wilson, Libraries and Archives Canada, accessed May 2, 2018
Alice Wilson, The Canadian Encyclopedia, accessed May 2, 2018
Wilson, A E, Geology of the Ottawa - St. Lawrence Lowland, Ontario and Quebec, Geological Survey of Canada, Memoir 241, 1946, 66 pages (4 sheets)
Alice Evelyn Wilson 1881-1964; Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame, Canada Science and Technology Museum.
The History of the Geological Survey of Canada in 175 Objects
Trailblazer - Alice Evelyn Wilson, 1881-1964 First Woman Geologist Left her Mark in Stone
Alice Wilson, Wikipedia, accessed May 2, 2018
Parks Canada This Week in History for Monday December 24, 2012, Nothing could stop Alice Wilson!