Memorable Manitobans: Margaret Newton (1887-1971)
Born at Montreal, Quebec on 20 April 1887, daughter of John Newton and Elizabeth MacFarlane Brown, she attended Macdonald College in Montreal where she studied Agriculture. She was one of the first two women to receive a degree in Agriculture in Canada. She was the first woman to join the Quebec Society for the Protection of Plants. In 1919 she received a Master’s degree in science, also from Macdonald College.
She began postgraduate work with grain rust, and did her doctoral research at the University of Saskatchewan, receiving a PhD from the University of Minnesota. In 1922 she was the first woman in Canada to achieve a PhD in Agriculture. While still a doctoral student in plant pathology, she discovered that there was more than one strain of wheat rust. Her experiments advanced scientific knowledge of stem rust in wheat which represented a major threat to the Canadian economy. Throughout her long career, much of it spent at Winnipeg’s Dominion Rust Research Laboratory, her meticulous research led to the development of rust-resistant grains. She became an internationally acclaimed scientist and a striking role model for Canadian women in science.
She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1942. In 1948 she received the Flavelle Medal from the Royal Society, the first graduate of an agricultural college to receive that award as well as the first woman. She also received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota.
She died at Victoria, British Columbia on 6 April 1971. A residence at the University of Victoria is named in her honour. She is a member of the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.
This page was prepared by Angela Graham and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 15 February 2015
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