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Margaret Wylie

$8,087.84 (raised so far)

About Margaret Wylie

Margaret Frances Wylie (née Croll)
b. 16 November 1923     d. 26 December 2014

Margaret had a lifelong passion for elegant prose and challenging puzzles, both of which were nurtured by her time at UBC. She graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics in 1945 and went on to do graduate work at Columbia University in New York, completing a Masters degree in Mathematical Statistics in 1946. She then returned to Canada to take a position at the Dominion Bureau of Statistics where she worked for most of a decade. In later years Margaret was a researcher for the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.

Margaret and her husband Lewis retired to Vancouver Island in 1979 and settled into rural Saanich Peninsula overlooking the Haro Strait. There they joined an existing community of family and friends including a number of UBC classmates of Margaret’s who had settled in the Victoria area. They were enthusiastic gardeners, active members in the local branch of the Canadian Archaeological Association and volunteers at the Royal British Columbia Museum, and long-time members of Shady Creek United Church congregation in Saanich.

Pre-deceased by her husband Lewis in 2001, Margaret passed away peacefully at the Sidney Care Home early on Boxing Day.

More about Margaret

Margaret spent her early years at Gate Lodge, Rideau Hall; she was born in Ottawa, the daughter of Ethel (née Clements) who had been private secretary to Lord Sifton, and Ralph Croll who served for many years as superintendent of the Governor General’s estate. She and her brother, Bob, moved with Ethel to Vancouver in the late 1920s where they later both attended UBC. Margaret graduated in 1945 with a B.A. in Mathematics and then moved to New York City to do graduate work in Mathematical Statistics at Columbia University under the direction of Abraham Wald, a founding figure in the field of sequential analysis. Upon graduating in 1946, Margaret returned to Canada to take a position at the Dominion Bureau of Statistics where she worked for most of a decade, joining a number of other redoubtable women statisticians who became life-long friends, among them Kathleen James and Frances McLean. In later years Margaret was a researcher for the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs; we remember her working on labeling guidelines for kosher products and appellation of origin (e.g., for Champagne), and on the use of trademark names as generics (e.g., ‘Kleenex’).

Shortly after Margaret moved to Ottawa she met a young military engineer, Lewis Hutchinson Wylie of Oxbow Saskatchewan; they married in Vancouver in 1949. Lewis went on to a distinguished career in the Canadian military. He originally served in the Signals Corps, played a key role in the formation of the Communications and Electronics Branch, and later led the organization through its transition into Communications Command. He retired at the rank of Major General in 1977. Margaret and Lewis spent several years in England in the mid-1950s when Lewis took a posting at the Military College of Science at Shrivenham; their daughter Alison was born in England in 1954, and their son, Robert Henry, in Ottawa in 1956. Subsequent postings took the family to CFB Valcartier, CFB Kingston, and back to Ottawa on a regular basis. Margaret retired a few years before Lewis and in 1979 they moved to Vancouver Island where they settled into rural Saanich Penninsula.

Margaret and Lewis were enthusiastic and adventuresome gardeners who produced an abundance of quince and figs, grapes and apples, as well as a remarkable range of other more mundane edibles. They were active members the local branch of the Canadian Archaeological Association and volunteers at the Royal British Columbia Museum; Margaret particularly delighted in refitting pottery fragments in the RBCM finds lab. In Saanich they joined the congregation of the Shady Creek United Church; Margaret served as treasurer for many years, and delivered Meals on Wheels across the Peninsula. Margaret was also a stalwart founding member of the Rickety Ramblers, an intrepid women’s walking group whose weekly hikes took them to all the regional parks in the Victoria region and beyond. An avid rug hooker, Margaret created elegant seat cushions and carpets out of recycled woolens; she was especially partial to simple line drawings inspired by the column-break images she had collected over the years from the New Yorker Magazine.

When Margaret and Lewis relocated to Vancouver Island they joined an existing community of family and friends: Margaret’s mother Ethel in Victoria; her brother, Bob, and his family on Mount Newton Cross Road; long-time neighbours and more distant relatives of Lewis’ from Oxbow; and a number of UBC college classmates of Margaret’s who had settled in the Victoria area over the years. They enjoyed an increasingly active social life as friends, relations, and colleagues joined them in retirement from across Canada. Margaret was pre-deceased by Lewis in 2001; she moved to Brentwood Bay the following year, and later spent five happy years at Beechwood Lodge in Sidney. She has been cared for with extraordinary kindness and expert attention at Sidney Care Home since 2011. Margaret passed away quietly early on Boxing Day.

Margaret is a compelling example of what women could accomplish in fields that were largely closed to them in the 1940s and 1950s. This memorial award is intended to encourage and support women students in the mathematical sciences; may they flourish in their chosen fields as Margaret did in applied mathematics.

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The impact of your support

In honour of Margaret’s love for applied mathematics an entrance scholarship for women in the mathematical sciences has been established in her name. The award is made on the recommendation of the Department of Statistics in consultation with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Messages of Remembrance

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  • I enjoyed seeing Margaret and Lewis when I visited my parents, Woodie and Lil Wood, and my aunt, Winona Wood, in Victoria. They were fun and very Interesting. They were caring and helpful when family needed them. Margaret was a special person. Donna Ing

    Donna Ing, Second cousin
List of Donors
All Donors
  • Anonymous Donation

  • Alison Wylie

  • The Wylie-Lyons Family

  • Etti Kaplan

  • Margaret Schabas

  • Paul A. Roth & Renee C. Winter

  • Nancy Cartwright

  • Donna and Cyril Ing

  • Carole Lee

  • Michael Rosenthal and Janelle Taylor

  • Rae Wylie-Ross & family

  • Alison Wylie

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