Searching for Mary Schäffer with Dr. Colleen Skidmore

 On Thursday, we joined Dr. Colleen Skidmore and the University of Alberta Press for a fascinating discussion about the newest Mountain Cairns series book, Searching for Mary Schäffer: Women Wilderness Photography. Mary Schäffer was a photographer, writer, botanical painter, and mapmaker from Philadelphia. She was also well-known for her travels in the Canadian Rockies.

Dr. Skidmore is a professor in the Department of History and Classics as well as a Scholar-in-Residence with the University of Alberta Press. Her research focuses on the history of photography in Canada c. 1860-1940, and in particular, on women’s photographic practices. Her most recent book analyzes the photography of Mary Schäffer to offer an impressive interpretation of Schäffer’s life. The presentation was moderated by Dr. PearlAnn Reichwein, a historian and professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation at the University of Alberta.

The presentation portrayed Schäffer’s reinvention of herself after the death of her husband. Through her photography and writings, she adopted a new literary persona and changed her social stature as she joined other women on Canadian Rockies adventures. Dr. Skidmore included beautiful photographs and maps created by Schäffer to capture the audience’s imagination. The research “informs questions about women and social structures, the environment, Indigenous societies, and the creation of knowledge in both written and visual work” – Dr. Colleen Skidmore, University of Alberta.

This presentation was part of a series of events put on by the Canadian Mountain Network as part of the 2017 Mountain Festival at the University of Alberta. The Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) is a voluntary alliance of partners from universities, governments, Indigenous communities, and businesses dedicated to the sustainability of mountain environments and communities across the country and around the world.

The University of Alberta Press book display

The University of Alberta Press book display

Dr. Colleen Skidmore presents  Searching for Mary   Schäffer

Dr. Colleen Skidmore presents Searching for Mary Schäffer

Stay tuned to this blog at and check out a comprehensive list of associated events at the U of A and across Canada at