The Marcelle Gauvreau Excellence Award is presented every year to an IRBV student who demonstrates exceptional commitment to their community and research excellence, while sharing scientific knowledge with the general public. This $5000 award was made possible by an initial donation from the Friends of the Montréal Botanical Garden.
During her university studies, Marcelle Gauvreau worked as a librarian at the Botanical Institute (now the IRBV) and became involved in the Canadian Natural History Society (CNHS) as well as an association of clubs for young naturalists (Cercles des Jeunes Naturalistes). In 1933, she collaborated with Brother Marie-Victorin on his inventory of Québec plants, La Flore Laurentienne, and later worked on Radio Canada’s educational series, La Cité des plantes. In 1935, she founded a school to initiate young people in the natural sciences (École de l’Éveil). She devoted a great deal of energy to that initiative, which operated at the Montréal Botanical Garden until 1957. A number of branches of the school were opened subsequently. She travelled to Europe numerous times to study preschool teaching methods. Marcelle Gauvreau published two children’s books on plants, Plantes curieuses de mon pays (1943) and Plantes vagabondes (1957), and also wrote a weekly column about the young naturalists clubs in Montréal’s Le Devoir newspaper from 1938 to 1954.
She was elected president of the CNHS in 1956, was a member of several organizations, and authored numerous scientific articles as well as a bibliography of Brother Marie-Victorin. She also published an important volume on Québec marine algae in 1956, based on research conducted for her master’s thesis (1939). Marcelle Gauvreau is considered by many to be a pioneer in preschool education in Québec. She died on December 16, 1968.
The Marcelle Gauvreau Excellence Award was created on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the IRBV, as a result of a long-standing desire within our institution to highlight the exceptional involvement of her students in society and university life.