Beginnings: Dorothy E. Newton

"At Berninahäuser I slept on the first floor of the annex to the Inn, over the Swiss Brown cows in the basement. They made only very gentle sounds during sleep-time, unlike the Murmeltiere (Marmots) who made the valley ring with their loud whistles. Around me were Primulas, Gentians, alpine Forget-me-nots, Edelweiss, and a number of ericaceous species which I saw years later in our Arctic." - Dorothy Swales on her time in Switzerland

After the successful completion of her Master's degree, Swales received a Hudson Bay Scholarship to pursue a PhD in Mycology at the University of Manitoba with a focus on fungal sexuality. This accomplishment would make Swales the first woman to receive a PhD from the University of Manitoba in 1931.

During her doctorate, Swales travelled to Europe to not only improve her German language skills, a university requirement for acquiring her PhD, but deepen her understanding of botany through course lectures and hands-on field work.

Throughout the summer of 1930, she travelled to Switzerland where her supervisor, Dr. A.H. Reginald Buller, had arranged for her to meet Swiss botanist and alpine flora specialist Dr. Carl Joseph Schröter. Dr. Schröter, who Swales described as "a dear old gentleman of 75 with a white beard," loaned her a plant press so she could collect in the Engadine Valley in Berninahäuser and later connected her with botanists at the Geobotanishes Institut in Zurich to identify the different specimens.

Swales returned to Montreal in September 1930 as a newly appointed lecturer in Botany, bringing her collection of Swiss plants with her. After briefly travelling to Winnipeg that Winter to complete her language reading tests, she was awared her PhD in absentia in the Spring of 1931. 

This exhibit features a selection of the plants she collected early in her training as a botanist while travelling across Switzerland and later in Quebec after returning to Macdonald College.