Agriculture: Margaret Newton

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Margaret Newton
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Cereal grain farmers the world over owe a large debt of thanks to Margaret Newton (Herstory 1987). One of the first two women in Canada to study agriculture at university, she discovered the "presence of physiological races in rust." This was the essential first step in conquering the rust that had destroyed over 100 million bushels of wheat in 1916.

Working at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Minnesota, she received her Ph.D. in 1922, and, by 1924, was the leading Canadian authority on cereal rusts. In 1925, she became head of a team at an agriculture research centre in Manitoba.

Margaret was frequently invited to speak at seminars around the world and, in 1930, went to Russia to train 50 students on the problems of rust research. Although pressed to stay, she returned to Canada to continue her work. Her important discoveries about wheat rust profoundly influenced the development of prairie agriculture. She was the first woman to receive the Favelle Medal of the Royal Society of Canada.

Despite their heavy workload,...I believe that most farm wives are happy to stay on their farms. What they find frustrating is that their labour is neither recognized nor adequately rewarded.
(Norma Taylor, 1976)

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