Collector’s Stories: James Fowler

James Fowler (1829-1923)

Background Information

James Fowler (originally Fowlie) was born in Bartibog, New Brunswick on July 16th, 1829 to George Fowlie and Jane McKnight. It is unknown when or why James changed his last name from Fowlie to Fowler. He grew up on a farm with a gristmill and a sawmill. His father died when he was only 14 and it would have been expected of him to take over his father’s job, but his mother encouraged him to go to school instead. Following that he took theological studies in Halifax at the Free Church College. After that he taught for a short time before returning home where he was ordained in 1857. He married a woman named Mary Ann McLeod on July 1st, 1858. They had two daughters. He moved around to a few different parishes, and during this time he was also very interested in natural history. He was interested in conchology, geology, meteorology, and particularly in systematic botany. He became the minister at a rural congregation that did not have much to offer so that he could study the flora in that area and he later studied flora from around the province. In 1876, he resigned his pastorate and following that he made the first catalogue of New Brunswick vascular plants and bryophytes. In 1880, he left New Brunswick and went to Kingston, Ontario to assume the position of lecturer in natural science, librarian, and curator of the museum at the Queen’s College located there. He taught geology, botany, and zoology. After eleven years at the Queen’s College, he was promoted to professor. In 1894, different courses were created and some were moved to other locations, so Fowler became the first full-time professor of botany. While at Queen’s College, Fowler developed a huge herbarium with approximately 50,000 specimens with 15,000 different species by the time of his retirement in 1907. There are 489 of his specimens located at the University of New Brunswick Herbarium. He passed away in Kingston, Ontario on January 11th, 1923 at the age of 93.

Further information, including a biography from the Canadian Dictionary of Biography, regarding James Fowler can be found in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website.

Written Works

As previously mentioned, after resigning, Fowler started working on cataloguing New Brunswick’s plants. Fowler published many different lists of plants found in New Brunswick. Three lists pertaining to New Brunswick plants,  a document containing correspondence letters between Asa Gray and Fowler and a book called, “Flora of Saint Andrews,” are held in the herbarium.

*Note: When researching Fowler, the archives were not visited due to a limited amount of time.

By Jillian Richards, 2017

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Coffee with Dr. Patricia Roberts-Pichette

Dr. Patricia Roberts-Pichette, former curator of the Herbarium and renowned biologist, visited the Connell Memorial Herbarium on August 24.  Former students and departmental friends gathered in the Common Room of Bailey Hall UNB, where we had a chance to catch up with Dr. Roberts-Pichette.

Since her days of teaching biology at UNB and developing the herbarium, Dr. Roberts-Pichette has been working to protect the global ecology with various federal and international agencies including:

  • Environment Canada
  • Canadian International Development Agency
  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN)
  • Canada MAB (Man and Biosphere).

In honour of all of her efforts, Environment Canada has created the “Patricia Roberts-Pichette Award”.

After retirement, Dr. Roberts-Pichette has become involved in the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), and has published a book describing the experiences of the thousands of British Home Children who came to Canada in the late 1800’s, “Great Canadian Expectations: The Middlemore Experience”.

It was such a pleasure to meet Dr. Roberts-Pichette, we are so grateful she made the time to stop in.   She contributed so much to the University and the Herbarium during the short time she worked here.  Her continuing enthusiasm for education, dedication to ecology and optimism were inspiring.

NB Spring Flowers Colouring Pages!

spring collage
SPRING WILDFLOWERS OF New Brunswick

Intrepid volunteer Elizabeth Mills has produced a series of colouring pages for our entertainment and education!  The first set are spring-flowering plants commonly found in New Brunswick. These lovely designs give the common names and Latin name of the species, where they might be found and some interesting facts about them.  With the help of our online specimen database, you might want to find some in your area to observe them in the wild!

Click on the image to get the full-sized pdf files for printing.