Photostory #320: Dr. Alice Wilson: The World Is At Her Feet: Canada's Leading Lady of Geological Science
National Film Board of Canada
September 18, 1962
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Over 50 years ago Canada's first lady geologist looked up with young, enquiring eyes at the Precambrian ramparts of the Canadian Shield across the Ottawa River, wondered deeply about the earth we live on. Then, in an age when women were expected to leave such things to men, she began a scientific study that would make her name known to university students around the world. Today, after decades of field observations, years of scientific thought, half a century of intricate investigations, Dr. Alice Evelyn Wilson, M.B.E., is the authority on 10,000 square miles of regional geology centred on the nation's capital, is author of many scientific studies (and a children's geology book), is still very busy learning and teaching the story of the earth's history. At 81, Dr. Wilson still thinks big. Little vicissitudes of life find small encouragement in her scientific brain schooled by years of professional observations and precise thinking. Yet, despite the cold, hard geological facts of her work, her view of the world is warm with the massive grandeur and delicate beauty of nature, is sunned by the bright rays of tolerance in things physical and abstract. Taking a group of geology students on a weekend field trip to study exposed parts of the earth's crust, she is still first over the farmer's fence, first to spot a wild-flower, a high-flying bird, the gathering storm and the changing face of the countryside. Still active, still threatening to retire (she officially retired from the Geological Survey of Canada 16 years ago). Dr. Alice Wilson, in her 82nd year, is still -- literally -- very much a woman of the world.