Mary Schäffer Warren

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Mary T. S. Schäffer Warren
Old Indian Trails - Nibs and His Mistress (cropped).jpg
Mary Townsend Sharples

1861 (1861)
Died1939 (aged 77–78)
Known forPainting, Photography, Writing
Charles Schäffer (m. 1890⁠–⁠1903)

Billy Warren (m. 1915)

Mary Schäffer Warren (1861 – 1939) was an American-Canadian naturalist, illustrator, photographer, and writer. She was known for her experiences in the Canadian Rockies in the early 20th century.[1]


Warren was born Mary Townsend Sharples in 1861 in West Chester, Pennsylvania.[2] She studied flower painting with George Cochran Lambdin.[2]

Illustration from "Alpine flora of the Canadian Rocky Mountains"

In 1889 Sharples embarked on her first visit to the Canadian Rockies, accompanied by her fellow art student, Mary Vaux.[3][4] In 1890 she married Dr. Charles Schäffer, an amateur botanist, whom she had met the previous year at Glacier House, the Canadian Pacific Railway's hotel in the Selkirk Mountains.[3] The couple would spend summers and autumns traveling in the Canadian Rockies. Their winters were spent in Philadelphia.[2] Charles Schäffer died in 1903, as did Mary's father and mother.[5]

In 1904, Schäffer returned to the Canadian Rockies with her friend Mary "Mollie" Adams[3][6] determined to complete a botanical guide that her husband had started.[2] To complete this project Schäffer collected botanical specimens and learned the skill of photography.[3] In 1907 Alpine Flora of the Canadian Rocky Mountains was published, with text by Stewardson Brown and drawings and photographs by Schäffer.[7]

In 1912 Schäffer moved permanently to Banff, Alberta. In 1915 she married her longtime friend and mountain guide William "Billy" Warren.[8]

Mary Schäffer Warren published articles about her explorations of the Rockies.[2] Many have been collected in This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.[9]

She died in 1939 in Banff.[2]


In 1909, a mountain in Yoho National Park was named Mount Schaffer in her honor.[10] In 2003, the University of Alberta named their newest student residence Schäffer Hall as a tribute to Schäffer Warren.[11]

Janice Sanford Beck is the author of “No Ordinary Woman: The Story of Mary Schäffer Warren” (Rocky Mountain Books, 2001). Her latest works, “Life of the Trail 1” and “Life of the Trail 2”, are collaborations with Emerson Sanford that retrace the footsteps of early travelers (including David Thomspon, Sir James Hector, and Mary Schäffer) in and around eastern Banff National Park and northern Yoho National Park. [5]


  1. ^ "Mary Schäffer Warren in the Canadian Rockies". Peaks & People. Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Warren, Mary T. S. Schäffer". Canadian Women Artists History Initiative. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Birrell, Dave. "Schaffer, Mary". PeakFinder. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Mary Schaffer Warren". historiccalgary. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Mary Schäffer Warren: Mountain Woman Extraordinaire". Experience the Mountain Parks. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Mollie Adams Diary". Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  7. ^ Brown, Stewardson (1907). Alpine Flora of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. New York : G.P. Putnam.
  8. ^ Birrell, Dave. "Warren, Billy". PeakFinder. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  9. ^ Skidmore, Colleen, ed. (2006). This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada (1st ed.). Edmonton: University of Alberta Press. ISBN 0888644663.
  10. ^ Birrell, Dave. "Mount Schaffer". PeakFinder. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Schäffer Hall | Residence Service University of Alberta". Residence Services University of Alberta. 2018. Retrieved September 1, 2018.

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