“The Father of Canadian Paleontology” at Saint Margaret awarded the Order of Canada

Robert Carroll
Robert Carroll

Staff at Saint Margaret Residential Centre came to know Robert Carroll as the resident who always carried a book on physiology around with him. Imagine their shock when they soon learned he wrote the book and was continuing to teach others from it.

“I was sitting with him one day and he was pointing at a picture of the spinal column and counting,” Saint Margaret’s nursing manager Viki Doucette recalls. “I realized he was teaching me the vertebrate and didn’t want to close the book until I understood.”

Ms. Doucette let the other staff know the significance of the book Mr. Carroll was often seen with – and that he clearly wanted to continue to discuss his lifelong work as a vertebrate paleontologist.

“It’s a reminder that every person we look after somehow contributed to society in their own way,” Ms. Doucette explains. “In Mr. Carroll’s case, he wanted to continue to contribute in our own community.”

Yet another surprise left the staff at Saint Margaret’s wide-eyed, as word spread that their own Mr. Carroll was awarded one of the country’s highest honours – the Order of Canada.

Robert Carroll’s Governor-General citation refers to him as “The Father of Canadian Palaeontology”. He is being recognized as a Member of the Order of Canada for his pre-eminent work as a vertebrate paleontologist, specializing in Paleozoic and Mesozoic amphibians and reptiles.

A former director at the Redpath Museum (from 1985-1991), Robert  Carroll began his career at the Redpath in 1964 as the curator of vertebrate paleontology.

“He is still part of the larger community – he’s not forgotten,” Ms. Doucette says. “To those of us who know him at Saint Margaret, he’s as sweet as anything. It puts to the forefront that we are taking care of the person – and not the disease.”

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