New Brunswick

Naturalist Mary Majka mourned

Mary Majka, one of Canada's great pioneering envrionmentalists, died Wednesday in Moncton.

New Brunswick woman remembered as a 'pioneer'

Mary Majka mourned

10 years ago
Duration 3:12
Social activist worked to protect historic sites and natural areas.

Lovers of nature and of history are mourning the passing of Mary Majka in New Brunswick.

The 90-year-old social activist died Wednesday morning in a Moncton hospital after suffering a stroke last week.

Majka, of Albert County, was a renowned and respected naturalist.

She also worked tirelessly to protect historic sites and made countless contributions to heritage trusts over the years.

New Brunswick naturalist Mary Majka died in a Moncton hospital on Wednesday, one month shy of her 91st birthday. (Courtesy of CPAWS)
"New Brunswick lost a pioneer today," said Deborah Carr, who wrote a book about Majka's life, called Sanctuary.

"I sometimes referred to Mary Majka as our First Lady of the Environment. She nurtured in others a tremendous ethic – an ethic built on caring for people and creatures … and also caring for culture and places," said Carr.

Majka was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2006 in recognition of the more than 40 years she spent championing nature conservation, environmental advocacy and heritage preservation.

In 2012, she received the inaugural New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence in Land Conservation.

Among her many accomplishments, Majka was the driving force behind the creation of a bird sanctuary in Mary's Point, near Fundy National Park.

“Mary was an amazing woman who believed strongly in protecting special places for species and had a passionate interest in the movement and activities of birds,” Linda Stephenson, Atlantic regional vice-president of the Nature Conservancy of Canada said in a statement.

“She played a major role in the Upper Bay of Fundy being recognized as globally important by the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network," Stephenson said.

About 75 per cent of the world’s population of semi-palmated sandpipers stop there to rest and feed for about three weeks before they migrate to South America for the winter.

"Mary was devoted and caring in all things conservation and leaves a wonderful legacy," said Stephenson.

Majka, who immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1951, is survived by two sons and an adopted daughter, as well as a granddaughter.

Funeral arrangements are pending.