After arriving in Canada in 1951 as a 28-year-old displaced person from Poland, Mary Majka moved to New Brunswick in 1961 to seek a neAfter arriving in Canada in 1951 as a 28-year-old displaced person from Poland, Mary Majka moved to New Brunswick in 1961 to seek a new life with her medical pathologist husband Mieczyslaw (Mike). In Europe, she had endured the trauma of German occupation during World War II. She was born to a prominent family in Poland — her mother was an aristocrat — and Mary's father, whose academic expertise was history and education, inspired his young daughter to take an interest in heritage and nature. Mary was especially keen to know more about the natural world, and as a young student, she studied nature during long walks, and talked with avid interest to local nature enthusiasts.
For Mary, it was a long and challenging journey from the rigours of a forced labor camp in Europe with periods of starvation during the war to the hard work of completing her medical doctor's degree at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, to the beauty and peace of Caledonia Mountain, and eventually to Mary's Point near Harvey on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. She was determined to greet the future with hope and vigour, bringing her Polish culture to life in New Brunswick, and above all, to help others understand the beauty, complexity, and power of nature.
Honours and Awards
The Citation for Mary Majka's Order of New Brunswick Investiture (2005) takes the measure of her achievements over a span of 50 years: She spearheaded the establishment of naturalist and heritage organizations, wrote articles and books, organized workshops and conferences, served on national and provincial boards and councils, established two nature centres, hosted a TV show, and saved from demolition a number of historic structures and sites. Through her efforts, the black-capped chickadee became the provincial bird of New Brunswick.
Her many other awards include the Order of Canada (Member, 2006), the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), Doctor of Science, honoris causa, University of New Brunswick, 1998, and the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation, 1992.
Mary was president of the New Brunswick Federation of Naturalists (1980–1984). From 1976 to 1985, she was a board member of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB), and served as President of the Albert County Heritage Trust (ACHT) from 1985 to 2011.
In 2010, at the age of 87, she was an enthusiastic early user of the iPad, which enables her to keep current with friends around the world and inform them of the natural wonders where she lives.
Along with her many credentials, Mary was licensed from 1980 to 2000 for the rehabilitation of injured or starving wildlife.