|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 256 September 11, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
D. B. O. Savile, botanist, mycologist, plant pathologist, ornithologist, all-round naturalist and Fellow Royal Society of Canada, died in Ottawa on 1 August, 2000. Doug was an extraordinary individual with an unusually broad range of interests. I first met him in 1969 when I joined the National Mycological Herbarium of Canada, then a part of the Plant Research Institute, later to become the Biosystematics Research Institute, of Canada Department of Agriculture, Ottawa. Among his mycological colleagues at the time were Ibra L. Conners, Mary Elliott, J. Walton Groves, Stanley J. Hughes, Mildred K. Nobles, and Luella K. Weresub. The mycologists usually met for coffee and Doug often held forth on the topic(s) of the moment. His ability to speak, in detail, on a broad range of natural history topics was "awesome." As one colleague put it "For me he was one of those chaps that made you appreciate how little you really knew (and this is always a good lesson for anyone to learn!!)."
Doug was born in Dublin, Ireland on July 19, 1909. Early schooling was at Weymouth College in England. He moved to Canada in 1928 and in 1933 received a B. Sci. in Agriculture from Macdonald College, Quebec, in 1934 he received a M. Sci. from McGill University; and in 1939 was awarded a Ph.D., having studied under the mycologist Professor E.B. Mains, from the University of Michigan. He joined the research division of the Canada Department of Agriculture in 1932 as a student assistant on the Fireblight (a bacterial disease) project at Abbotsford, Quebec. From 1941 to 1945 he served in the Aero-Engineering Branch of the Royal Canadian Air Force. His professional career was spent with the Department of Agriculture and at the time of retirement he was at the highest scientific level of Principal Research Scientist. He was assistant curator of the mycological herbarium (DAOM) from 1943 to 1953, and curator from 1954 to 1967. After retiring in July 1974 he was appointed an Honorary Research Associate.
Doug's botanical interests were so closely integrated with his mycological research that they might be overlooked. In 1953, however, Jim Calder and he began a systematic coverage of the flora of British Columbia. This inevitably led Calder, Savile and Roy Taylor to the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1957 and subsequently the completion of three papers, co-authored with Jim Calder, on the taxonomy of the Saxifragaceae. He and Calder cooperated on a note on the flora of Chesterfield Inlet, and another on the phylogeny of Carex in the light of parasitism by the smut fungi. Another paper documented the splash-cup dispersal mechanisms in Chrysosplenium and Mitella. His 1972 book "Arctic adaptations in plants" brought together his careful observations from the field trips to the Canadian arctic in 1950, 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1962. It has been termed a classic in arctic biology. Finally there is Doug's 1962 handbook intended for amateur and professional botanists (including mycologists) titled "Collection and Care of Botanical Specimens". Doug's thoroughness and attention to detail made this booklet an extremely useful aid for collectors, as well as curators.
Mycologically, Doug worked primarily with the parasitic fungi known as rusts and smuts. His research treated taxonomy, ecology, phylogeny, co-evolution of host plants and their parasites, use of parasites to decipher host plant relationships, and biogeographic history of Canadian plants. Later he was involved in developing the use of rust relationships as a guide to taxonomic relationships and comparative chronology of the various groups of grasses. Doug Savile was a consummate naturalist writing papers on many subjects, such as meteorological phenomena, flight capabilities of Archeopteryx, flight mechanisms of swifts and hummingbirds, and the function and convergence of biogeography. Doug was an avid bird-watcher and student of bird biology in the decades prior to 1970.
The significance of Doug's research contributions to Canadian botany and mycology both at the Canadian and international level have been acknowledged in several ways. He was elected in 1966 a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 1976 Doug was awarded the prestigious George Lawson Medal by the Canadian Botanical Association. In 1978 he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from McGill University and in 1980 he was voted an Honorary Member of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club. The Mycological Society of America elected Doug a Distinguished Mycologist in 1988. He had been a member since 1938.
For a partial list of his published papers see http://www.cciw.ca/eman-temp/scientists/botanists/SavileDBO.html
I met Dr. Doug Savile at the Canadian Botanical Association meeting in Ottawa (1979), at their official 'icebreaker', a dull Sunday evening wine and cheese affair. As my wife Oluna and I were looking about for a familiar face, the door opened and Oluna's closest schoolmate from Prague, Vera Holubova-Jechova, entered the room. Bystanders did not know what was happening as Vera started to shout our names and we embraced, kissed and jumped up and down. The ice was broken. Vera was a guest of Dr. Stanley Hughes, a mycologist from the Biosystematics Research Institute and a colleague of Dr. Savile.
When Doug Savile saw that we were Czechs, he opened his arms to us. He started to tell us about his family, referring often to 'my son Norr', and 'my daughter Vlasta', etc. Our obvious question to Doug, clearly a non-Czech, was, "Why do all your children have Czech names?" He told us that when the Russian army invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968, Doug and Connie Savile opened their house to several Czech emigrants and helped them start their new lives in Canada. "I would like to have been a Czech, if I were not already a Scot", Doug admitted.
One of his Czech adoptive children became his family doctor, another was a family dentist, etc. After the "children" fled their (actually Doug's) Ottawa home, they all came back at Christmas for many years. They were his adoptive sons and adoptive daughters. That evening and throughout our entire stay in Ottawa, I felt like I had become Doug's adoptive nephew.
I recently published a key to the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) of Canada and Alaska at http://res2.agr.ca/ecorc/cwmt/brasskey/ . It can be accessed from the front page by Adobe Acrobat Reader. It is the key to 248 taxa in 58 genera of Brassicaceae and includes the type species of each genus, pertinent synonyms, general distribution, and information on the native or naturalized status of each taxon.