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Stories of four UBC Herbarium contributors Saba, Carly May 6, 2015

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 Stories of Four UBC Herbarium ContributorsCarly SabaReport prepared at the request of the University of British Columbia Herbarium in partial fulfillment of UBC Geography 429: Research in Historical Geography, for Dr. David Brownstein.May 6th, 2015Saba 1Abstract  Botany has evolved from what was once a recreational pastime to a rigorous discipline focused on the search for scientific answers. Although its scientific nature is helpful in many respects towards discovery, it also must be remembered the curiosity from which these discoveries stem. By focusing on four contributors to the UBC Herbarium, Dr.’s T.M.C. Taylor, Wilfred Schofield, Robert F. Scagel and Gerald Straley, their stories are explored. While it is important to note their academic accomplishments, it is also meaningful to celebrate who they are as people. Herbaria aid in the preservation of Earth’s ever-compromised biodiversity. These four figures are integral pillars to the foundation of the UBC Herbarium, and through their honest  curiosity, became part of something larger than themselves. Cover Photo: Herbarium Tea Party. UBC Herbarium, c/o Dr. Bob Scagel, ~1957.Saba 2Introduction  As with many passions, all it takes to create a spark is an honest curiosity with a subject. This curiosity can lead to greater things and contributions in which the individual is an integral part of something larger than themselves. This theme of success stemming from pure interest and passion for a subject is seen throughout the history of botany. Botany became popular in the 1820’s, growing to be the most popular science in America at the time as it was both recreational and educational. However, botanists were not considered professionals as they were without formal scientific training and most collected and identified plants as a pastime1. It is often overlooked that amateurs and professionals pursue science for different reasons: the amateur botanists of the 19th century were happier with the goal of personal enrichment than on advancing science and were interested in the collection, identification, preservation and exchange of specimens. Upon the European arrival to the New World, a task was set out to document its natural wonders. As transporting specimens back home proved difficult, it was decided to turn to collection, description and preservation of plant species. While many botanists collected and identified new species, others created herbaria, some focusing on one family of plants and others focusing more broadly. It is explained that many began botanizing as children, this curiosity growing into adulthood, some becoming farther exploring than others, but none more adventurous than the next. Many wonders could simply be found on the side of a quiet road near their home2.  As Botany began to grow as a subject, so too did the distinction between amateur and professional3. As the scientific community was shifting from a predominantly amateur to a professional identity, amateurs continued to be the “hands, legs and eyes of individuals and institutions”,4 and as professional scientists increasingly spent time in labs, there became a 1 Elizabeth B. Keeney. The Botanizers: amateur scientists in nineteenth-century america, The University of North Carolina Press, 1992.2 Ibid.3 Ibid.4 Ibid.Saba 3dependence on amateur botanists to conduct the collecting for them5. Most of the collectors did so for the “sheer joy of discovery” and perhaps the reward of having their name attached to the finding. As botany has shifted to a more scientific based practice concerned with plant physiology, genetics, ecology and conservation, what remains the same is the excitement of collecting6.  The world is threatened more so each day with a loss of biodiversity and Herbaria play a large role in documenting the world’s fauna before it is lost forever7. Among the many herbaria and botanical gardens around the world, UBC’s are among the ranks of the most established and extensive in terms of species collected. They contribute to the fundamental role of herbaria in preserving biodiversity8. This is, in many respects, due to the hard work of four individuals whose curiosity led them to work tirelessly in search of plant species. I will explore the lives of four important contributors to the UBC Herbarium. I hope to reveal the more personal sides of these individuals who were known not just for their contributions to the botanical world. While scientists and other academics are often praised for their professional contributions, it is also important to note who they are as people, and that their success often stems from honest curiosity. This is what I want to investigate for Drs. T.M.C. Taylor, Robert F. Scagel, Wilfred Schofield, and Gerald Straley. These individuals demonstrate that their “curiosity about the unknown and an inexplicable(but entirely legitimate) desire to understand” is what led them to greatness9. 5 Karen B. Nilsson. A Wildflower by Any Other Name, Nils Nilsson, 1994.6 Ibid.7 Ed. by Deborah A. Metsger and Sheila C. Byers. Managing the Modern Herbarium: An interdisciplinary Approach, Elton-Wolf Publishers, 1999.8 Mary Soderstrom. Recreating Eden: A Natural History of Botanical Gardens, Vehicule Press, 2001.9 Maze, J. and K. Robson. 1993. In defense of aesthetics. Lasthenia, a publication of the U.C. Davis Herbarium, Summer.Saba 4Thomas Mayne Cunningham Taylor (1904-1983)  These individuals are situated in the larger story of science, exploration and adventure10. Among many other things, what comes with being a botanist is discomfort, accidents, and treks into the wilderness11. One such adventurer is Thomas Mayne Cunningham (T.M.C.) Taylor, a man who forged pathways on the study of the lush ferns of British Columbia. Figure 1: T.M.C Taylor, “Tommy”, UBC Herbarium Director 1951-1969. The UBC Herbarium, c/o Linda Jennings.In 1904, ‘Tommy’ as everyone knew him was born in Pretoria South Africa12. With his family, he immigrated to Canada settling in Kelowna in 191113. In 1919 at the age of 15, he entered the 10 Andrea DiNoto and David Winter. The Pressed Plant: the art of botanical specimens, natureprints, and sun pictures, Harry N. Abrams, 1999.11 Charles Lyte. The Plant Hunters, Orbis Publishing, London, 1983.12 Iain Taylor, Oral history interview, March 9th, 201513 UBC Archives Senate Tributes: Thomas M.C. Taylor (1904-1983)Saba 5Royal Naval College of Canada until 1922 when he began at UBC. Known as one of Canada’s leading experts on ferns and roses, he graduated from UBC with Honors in Biology in 1926. While attending UBC, Taylor was involved in theatre, praised for his “uniformly excellent” acting, and taking part in initiating actors in younger years14. He continued his education at the University of Wisconsin, achieving his M.S. in 192715. After this, he attended the University of Toronto where he acquired a Doctor of Philosophy in 1930 and continued to teach and research there in the Department of Botany from 1932-45. Crossing over with this time period (1942-45), he served the Department of National Defense in the Royal Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Navy, ending his service as a Cdr. (S.B.) R.C.N.V.R. Following this service, in 1946 he joined the UBC faculty of the Department of Botany as a professor. In 1951, Taylor took over as the director of the UBC Botanical Garden and Herbarium, and in 1954 became the Department Head16.  Aside from his accomplishments in the academic realm, ‘Tommy’ as recalled by Iain Taylor (Professor Emeritus of Botany at UBC and the Project Director at the UBC Botanical Gardens) was laid back--a good and well respected botanist17. He was a naturalist and well liked by his students. He did not publish a lot, Iain explains, as it “was not a big deal” back then; rather, he was an enthusiastic collector, and very much thought of as a rose expert. Above all he was a field botanist and a conductor of taxonomic research. Iain explains that Tommy’s wisdom was one of the things people listened for. He thought about people, and this is what made him unique. In 1963, Taylor stepped down to devote his time to teaching and research. Finally, in 1968 he retired yet remained actively interested in his discipline. As a member of the UBC Botanical Garden study group he was a true adventurer, visiting Haida Gwaii just a month before his death on August 6th, 1983 at the age of 7918.14 Ubyssey, Nov. 29th, 192315 UBC Archives Senate Tributes: Thomas M.C. Taylor (1904-1983)16 Ibid.17 Iain Taylor, Oral history interview, March 9th, 201518 UBC Reports Sept. 21st, 1983Saba 6Wilfred Borden Schofield (1927-2008)  Among these adventurers are kind souls such as Wilf Schofield. Born on July 19th, 1927 in Brooklyn Corner Nova Scotia was an individual who grew into a warm, welcoming, helpful and open person, as explained by his students19. He also “developed an interest in all things green, other than money”20. Wilf achieved his Masters and PhD in Ecology but always held a keen interest in bryophytes as explained by former student Olivia Lee(Lichens, Bryophytes and Fungi Collections Manager, UBC Herbarium)21. Lee explains that while collecting, moss would always catch his eye22. Figure 2: Wilfred Borden Schofield in the field. Rene J. Belland and Howard Crum. The Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory: Devoted to Bryology and Lichenology, No. 82, The Hattori Botanical Laboratory, Japan, 1997, i-9.Hired by T.M.C. Taylor, Wilf worked as a professor of botany at UBC for 33 years from 1960-1993. Evidently, UBC needed a bryophytes enthusiast and Wilf gained the position as if it 19 Rene J. Belland and Howard Crum. The Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory: Devoted to Bryology and Lichenology, No. 82, The Hattori Botanical Laboratory, Japan, 1997, i-9.20 Ibid.21 Olivia Lee, Oral history interview, March 10th, 201522 Ibid.Saba 7was waiting for him23. His classes were highly praised by students as they were small, full of fresh plant specimens, and endless offers of tea24. His dedication to his students earned him the Faculty of Science “Excellence in Teaching” award in the school year of 1991-92. His sense of adventure is evident in his expanse of collections from a wide range of places including B.C. (most notably Haida Gwaii), California, the Yukon, Ellesmere Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and Hawaii. Colleagues explain that in the field he was tireless and endlessly enthusiastic, consistently upbeat and pleasant despite discomforts encountered such as fatigue, bad weather and lousy food25. Iain Taylor remembers him as “utterly and completely devoted to mosses and botany” and “the source of all them little packages” in the herbarium26. He held an interest in circumpolar phytogeography , “certainly was a collector” and was generally unhappy if ever having to kill his mosses27.  Wilf’s dedication to his work would last late into the night after a long day of collecting. He would stay up numbering and pressing his samples, and the large bryophyte collection in the UBC Herbarium which grew from less than 2000 specimens in 1960 to over 250, 000 specimens in 1995 can be attributed largely to his tireless work. As explained by Lee, he “more or less single handedly built the bryophyte collection we have”28.  His passions did not lie in just plants and all things green, however. Wilf loved music, books and wine. His music collection consisted of 2000 vinyls, cassettes and CDs, and books on both botany and English Literature29. Nearly every Thursday afternoon would consist of a trip downtown to his favourite book and record stores. His other love was that for his wife Peggy 23 Ibid.24 Ibid.25 Ibid.26 Iain Taylor, Oral history interview, March 9th, 201527 Ibid.28 Olivia Lee, Oral history interview, March 10th, 201529 Rene J. Belland and Howard Crum. The Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory: Devoted to Bryology and Lichenology, No. 82, The Hattori Botanical Laboratory, Japan, 1997, i-9.Saba 8whom he met while attending school in California30. She was a talented pianist and was involved in textile design. Together they had three daughters: Linda who teaches English at Ryerson Polytechnic University, Muriel who is a potter in Arizona and Pamela who is a grade school teacher in Vancouver31.  Howard Crum, whom Wilf assisted in the field, recalls how he would take note of even the smallest and seemingly insignificant plants and that he truly was the best collector he had ever known32. Wilf is remembered fondly by other students as one who was a sincere person, genuinely interested in not only his students but fellow human beings. Although his office was always a catastrophe with books and papers piling 40 centimeters high, it was always a welcoming environment filled with “warmth and equanimity”33. In certain circumstances, it was clear Wilf exuded light-heartedness; for example, as told by colleague Rene J. Belland, while on a plant collecting expedition, their boat was leaking and while other passengers were panicking, Wilf was simply enjoying the ride. Belland also notes how his focus and love for bryology likely helped him endure the discomforts which arise with field work34. Olivia Lee recalls how as a teacher he was very caring. He was hands on, with well prepared classes and trays of mugs for tea creating an overall friendly situation and welcoming environment to learn in35. His style was such that he did not believe in final exams. Rather, he would conduct one on one oral exams where he would tailor questions to each individual student. Lee explains how he understood how students could stumble on written tests but with oral exams he could rephrase the questions so as to help the students36. These would take more time, but he knew each student and felt they deserved this. His field trips are remembered by Lee as fun experiences with classmates. Wilf 30 Ibid.31 Ibid.32 Ibid.33 Rene J. Belland and Howard Crum. The Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory: Devoted to Bryology and Lichenology, No. 82, The Hattori Botanical Laboratory, Japan, 1997, i-9.34 Ibid.35 Olivia Lee, Oral history interview, March 10th, 201536 Ibid.Saba 9would show the class how to collect. She also remembers how fond he was of the moss on his garage roof37.   From these stories told by friends and colleagues it can be inferred that Wilf was a kindhearted individual whose honest love for plants and creatures led him to achieve effortlessly. When asked if he was her favourite teacher, Olivia Lee replies with “yeah...I think he was!”38.Robert Scagel (1921- ) Following Wilf Schofield is Robert Scagel. He was a student of the esteemed John Davidson(the pioneer botanist of British Columbia) while completing his B.A. in 1947 and M.A. in 1948 at UBC. He achieved his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1952 and his F.R.S.C. in 1954. He was the curator of the Phycological Collection at the UBC Herbarium from 1952-2000 and acted as the director of the UBC Herbarium from 1972-1986. Figure 3: Robert F. Scagel in the field collecting (on the left in blue). Photo by Michael Hawkes (curator of algae, UBC Herbarium).37 Ibid.38 Ibid.Saba 10Remembered by Jack Maze (Professor Emeritus, Department of Botany at UBC) as the best Head of Botany the department ever had, he was well respected, protecting students from the faculty and the faculty from the higher administration39. His research took him to far reaches including the Indian Ocean, submerging himself in scuba gear to go collecting. Scagel, Maze explains, was one of the first collectors to use scuba gear, his graduate students getting to accompany him on dives as well. As is shown by this, Scagel was a forward thinking person in the department40. Olivia Lee remembers him to be a fair man. Before him, all of the plant collections were in huts and it was his vision which established the old Herbarium which was located in the Biology building. Moreover, he was the one who began organizing the databasing of collections, the herbarium hiring a graduate student, David Crow, who wrote this database in 197941. Evidence of his forward thinking is presented here and UBC was one of the first Herbaria to have such a database established. Scagel is father to four children: Robert Kevin, Nancy Kathleen, Ernest John and Carolyn Frances42. He began painting in his retirement, and continues to enjoy this today. Gerald Bane Straley (1945-1997)  Another one of UBC’s adventurers is Gerald Bane Straley, a “superb botanist and plantsman” of Canada43. Remembered by Linda Jennings (Vascular Plants and Algae Collections Manager, UBC Herbarium) as “the nicest guy” he would send letters to friends and family illustrating what flowers were blooming wherever he may have been44.  39 Jack Maze, Oral history interview, March 4th, 201540 Ibid.41 Olivia Lee, Oral history interview, March 10th, 201542 Nicole Godwin. The UBC Herbarium: an Institutional History. UBC cIRcle. UBC Geog 429, 2013. https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/44424/Godwin_Nicole_GEOG_429_2013.pdf?sequence=1.43 Iain Taylor, Oral history interview, March 9th, 201544Linda Jennings, Personal Communication, March 19th, 2015Saba 11 Born in 1945 in Virginia, he received his masters at Ohio University45 and then became a research Scientist and Curator for the collections at the UBC Botanical Garden46. He arrived in B.C. as a student of Roy Taylor’s, whom, as explained by Iain Taylor, always hired strong students such as Nancy Turner47.  Hired by Iain Taylor, he became the first non-department Head of the UBC Herbarium and was a hands-on one at that. He also acted as the curator of the vascular plants collection which improved greatly under his stewardship48. As an artistic individual, he added a different perspective to the world of science surrounding the Herbarium. He is remembered by Janet Stein (Professor Emeritus of Botany at UBC ) as a “fantastic botanical artist” and an “excellent teacher” because he was an “excellent communicator”49. Furthermore, his students added many vouchers to the botanical collection. The old herbarium wing in the biology building was used as a storage section, and the dry wall was never finished, Olivia Lee recalls. Being the meticulous, tidy and artistic person Gerald was, he had a painting party on a Saturday. People would come, paint brush in hand, and would have fun working together to make the herbarium look nice50. Gerald’s ability to bring people together is evident here, even if the bonding experience was in the form of a chore.  45 Janet Stein, Oral history interview, March 19th, 201546 Wilf Nicholls. Botanical Electronic News. “Gerald Bane Straley (1945-1997)”.47 Iain Taylor, Oral history interview, March 9th, 201548 Olivia Lee, Oral history interview, March 10th, 201549 Janet Stein, Oral history interview, March 19th, 201550 Olivia Lee, Oral history interview, March 10th, 2015Saba 12Figure 4: Gerald Straley. UBC Botanical Garden Forums (http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=1887) He was much more than this still. His interests stretched from botany to hiking, gardening, and taxonomy. He was a naturalist, photographer, author and most importantly a teacher. He was a warm, humorous and gentle man who was “quietly tenacious and strove for excellence in all he did”51. A close friend of Iain Taylor’s, he is remembered as a classic field botanist and a “fairly low-key curator of the collections”. His botanical interests lay largely in California and Oregon, and he ran field trips there with his fellow senior curators52. He collected wherever he went, 51 Wilf Nicholls. Botanical Electronic News. “Gerald Bane Straley (1945-1997)”.52 Janet Stein, Oral history interview, March 19th, 2015Saba 13leading excursions to Australia and South Africa with the Friends of the Garden--a volunteer group which would help to press plants53. His passion inspired his students as did his openness for sharing knowledge with all who would like to learn. This quiet tenacity is documented in his book Trees of Vancouver for which he spent 10 years doing research, walking up and down neighbourhood streets documenting all that grew. A man who took time to notice and appreciate simple joys, all plants and trees, no matter how commonplace, fascinated him54. As explained by Iain Taylor, “he was going real fancy and then he got sick”55. In 1997, Straley passed away at the age of 42, due to cancer. He is remembered by Janet Stein as “very much of a human being, a very kind person, and he loved his friends”56. Gerald will live on through his thoughtful and genuine contributions to the world of botany. The nature of botany experienced a shift which inevitably added the complexities that arise in the ‘professional’ or ‘scientific’ study of subjects. What is demonstrated through the four individuals focused on here, is that underneath each academic professional is a curious individual who sees the world in a way unto themselves. Although Botany today is a science, what remains true about it is the creative and adventurous foundation on which it stands. Botany reminds us to “get excited by a clover leaf in a lawn” and that “ ‘wow’ [isn’t] just the new, the rare, the odd, or the unusual...‘wow’ [isn’t] about the length of the species list”57. Allowing ourselves to see what is around us is seemingly what these four botanists taught, and it is because of their nature as keen observers that the UBC Herbarium is so fortunate to have had them cross its path. As is explained by Jack Maze, the botanist is an individual who “enjoys plants in general as entities of 53 Iain Taylor, Oral history interview, March 9th, 201554 Wilf Nicholls. Botanical Electronic News. “Gerald Bane Straley (1945-1997)”.55 Iain Taylor, Oral history interview, March 9th, 201556 Janet Stein, Oral history interview, March 19th, 201557 Maze, J., R. K. Scagel, and K. A. Robson. 2010. Aesthetics, science, and the botany of Wilfred Borden Schofield. anadian Journal of Botany 88 (4):xi–xiv.Saba 14intrinsic fascination”58. With a firm distinction between amateur and professional, restrictions seem to arise which discourage the two from overlapping, thus inhibiting opportunities for growth and exploration. In a way, “science loses part of its tremendous potential to help us understand the world around us and it also loses a little piece of its soul”59. Curiosity must continue to be encouraged in science as it is this curiosity which can lead to greater things and contributions in which the individual is an integral part of something larger than themselves, as is demonstrated by these four individuals. 58 Maze, J. and K. Robson. 1993. In defense of aesthetics. Lasthenia, a publication of the U.C. Davis Herbarium, Summer.59 Ibid.ReferencesSecondary SourcesAndrea DiNoto and David Winter. The Pressed Plant: the art of botanical specimens, natureprints, and sun pictures, Harry N. Abrams, 1999.Charles Lyte. The Plant Hunters, Orbis Publishing, London, 1983.Ed. by Deborah A. Metsger and Sheila C. Byers. Managing the Modern Herbarium: An interdisciplinary Approach, Elton-Wolf Publishers, 1999.Elizabeth B. Keeney. The Botanizers: amateur scientists in nineteenth-century america, The University of North Carolina Press, 1992.Karen B. Nilsson. A Wildflower by Any Other Name, Nils Nilsson, 1994.Mary Soderstrom. Recreating Eden: A Natural History of Botanical Gardens, Vehicule Press, 2001.Maze, J. and K. Robson. 1993. In defense of aesthetics. Lasthenia, a publication of the U.C. Davis Herbarium, Summer.Maze, J., R. K. Scagel, and K. A. Robson. 2010. Aesthetics, science, and the botany of Wilfred Borden Schofield. anadian Journal of Botany 88 (4):xi–xiv.Nicole Godwin. The UBC Herbarium: an Institutional History. UBC cIRcle. UBC Geog 429, 2013. https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/44424/Godwin_Nicole_GEOG_429_2013.pdf?sequence=1. Rene J. Belland and Howard Crum. The Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory: Devoted to Bryology and Lichenology, No. 82, The Hattori Botanical Laboratory, Japan, 1997, i-9.Wilf Nicholls. Botanical Electronic News. “Gerald Bane Straley (1945-1997)”. http://bomi.ou.edu/ben/ben181.html. UBC Archives Senate Tributes: Thomas M.C. Taylor (1904-1983) http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/tributes/tribtuv.htmlPrimary SourcesUBC Reports Sept. 21st, 1983. http://digitalcollections.library.ubc.ca/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ubcreports/id/2632/rec/6.Ubyssey, Nov. 29th, 1923. http://digitalcollections.library.ubc.ca/cdm/compoundobject/collection/Ubysseynews/id/8289/rec/5.Iain Taylor, Oral history interview, March 9th, 2015.Jack Maze, Oral history interview, March 4th, 2015.Janet Stein, Oral history interview, March 19th, 2015.Linda Jennings, Personal Communication, March 19th, 2015.Olivia Lee, Oral history interview, March 10th, 2015. 

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